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Woody Allen Abuse Scandal: How We Got Here

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Dylan Farrow first claimed in 1992 that director Woody Allen molested her at age 7.

More than 20 years later, the story is in the news again after she penned a piece detailing her version of the story for the first time in the New York Times over the weekend.

Here is a recap of some of the earlier twists and turns in the saga:

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Woody and Mia meet: In 1980, 43-year-old Woody was still fresh off his multiple Oscar wins for 1977's "Annie Hall" and the commercial success of 1979's "Manhattan" when he met actress Mia Farrow, 34. The twice-divorced stars had previously encountered each other briefly at a party in California, but their longtime relationship officially began at NYC's iconic, now-closed restaurant Elaine's, which serves as a setting in "Manhattan." Mia was with actor Michael Caine and his wife following a performance of the Broadway play she was in at the time, while Allen was alone. After that, as Farrow explained to the New York Times for a 1991 profile of the couple, things progressed slowly. He invited her to his New Year's Eve party, she sent him a book, he took her to lunch, and they began dating. She would later star in many of his movies, including  the Oscar-winning "Husbands and Wives."


They become a family: Woody told People magazine in 1976 that, "It's no accomplishment to have or raise kids. Any fool can do it." But he eventually changed his mind, which was a good thing since Mia already had six children — three adopted and three biological — by the time they got involved. She and Allen later adopted son Moses and, in 1985, daughter Dylan. They welcomed a biological son, Satchel (now Ronan), in 1987. Though Mia and Woody never resided together or married, the filmmaker spent the time he wasn't making movies as a devoted dad if the Times piece on the couple was to be believed. "[Woody and Mia] are constantly in touch with each other, and not many fathers spend as much time with their children as Allen does," the profile noted. "He is there before they wake up in the morning, he sees them during the day and he helps put them to bed at night." Woody even adopted Moses and Dylan in December 1991, although Mia claimed later in Vanity Fair that Allen underwent therapy during that time for his "inappropriate behavior toward Dylan."

[Related: Woody Allen Allies Cast Doubt on Abuse Claims]

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The ugly split: In January 1992, Mia found six naked photos of her daughter Soon-Yi, then 21, on the mantle at Woody's apartment, and one of Hollywood's biggest scandals ensued. She wrote in her 1997 memoir, "What Falls Away," that she sent him ''a family picture Valentine with skewers through the hearts of the children."

The first accusations: Despite Mia's discovery, she allowed Woody to spend August, 4, 1992, at Frog Hollow, Farrow's home in the Connecticut countryside, where she and some of the children were staying. According to Mia, young Dylan later claimed that the sexual assault happened that day in the attic, when she and the director were unsupervised. As Dylan herself wrote this week in the New York Times, "He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother's electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we'd go to Paris and I'd be a star in his movies." Dylan has stayed mostly mum on the accusations, which is why her piece comes as somewhat of a shock. However, the incident has been talked about for years. The public first heard about the charges in 1992, when the Connecticut State Police confirmed that they were investigating the claim, as they do all such claims. Woody has always denied any wrongdoing.

He didn't earn any sympathy for himself with the public, though, when he issued a statement about Soon-Yi the same week: "Regarding my love for Soon-Yi: It's real and happily all true. She's a lovely, intelligent, sensitive woman who has and continues to turn around my life in a wonderfully positive way."

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[Related: The Woody Allen-Mia Farrow Scandal 20 Years Later]

The custody battle: Woody filed for custody of the children he shared with Mia in mid-August, according to the New York Times, setting the stage for a very public, very personal feud. Mia testified that when Dylan told her about the molestation the day after it occurred, she videotaped the child's story. Dylan was taken to two doctors who, of course, wouldn't comment on the case. Mia herself testified, though, that Dylan didn't have any injuries from the altercation. Nanny Monica Thompson, who was employed by Woody, claimed in a deposition that Mia's son, Moses, and another family employee told her that they doubted the story. Accusations flew from both sides. Woody continued to claim his innocence. In the end, full custody was awarded to Mia.

However, the Connecticut state's attorney Frank S. Macko chose not to pursue the molestation case against Woody. Macko found "probable cause" but considered the little girl 'traumatized to the extent that I did not have a confident witness to testify in any court setting, whether that's a closed courtroom or an open courtroom," he told Vanity Fair last year.

Woody has long been estranged from his now-adult children Dylan and Ronan.

Woody marries Soon-Yi: Wedding bells rang for Woody and Soon-Yi in Venice, Italy, in December 1997. The happy couple later adopted two daughters of their own, Bechet and Manzie, who are now teenagers. To this day, the neurotic director has continued to say that he doesn't understand all the controversy about he and Soon-Yi. "I am not Soon-Yi's father or stepfather," he told Time magazine in 1992. "I was not a father to her adopted kids in any sense of the word. The only thing unusual is that she's Mia’s daughter. But she's an adopted daughter and a grown woman. I could have met her at a party or something."

The story continues: The Woody and Mia saga resurfaced in 1997 when she released her memoir, which of course addressed the subject of Woody, and in occasional articles, most notably in Vanity Fair. In October, reporter Maureen Orth wrote a piece that quoted Dylan, who's now married and goes by a different name, Malone, as well as the rest of the Farrow family. Woody, who's recent films have garnered critical acclaim as well as Oscar nominations, was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award in January at the Golden Globes, triggering negative tweets from Ronan Farrow, who Mia revealed in 2013 could "possibly" be the son of her ex-husband, Frank Sinatra. Ronan wrote at the time, "Missed the Woody Allen tribute - did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?

Dylan speaks: Dylan wrote a graphic account of the abuse in Times writer Nicholas Kristof's column in the New York Times. Her powerful piece charged celebrities such as Diane Keaton, who presented Woody with that lifetime achievement award, Cate Blanchett, and others with turning a blind eye to her charges. "For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn't like," she wrote. "I didn't like how often he would take me away from my mom, siblings and friends to be alone with him. I didn't like it when he would stick his thumb in my mouth. I didn't like it when I had to get in bed with him under the sheets when he was in his underwear. I didn't like it when he would place his head in my naked lap and breathe in and breathe out. I would hide under beds or lock myself in the bathroom to avoid these encounters, but he always found me."

Woody maintained his innocence through a statement from his publicist. “Mr. Allen has read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful,” the statement read. “He will be responding very soon … At the time, a thorough investigation was conducted by court appointed independent experts. The experts concluded there was no credible evidence of molestation; that Dylan Farrow had an inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality; and that Dylan Farrow had likely been coached by her mother Mia Farrow. No charges were ever filed.”

Moses, the 36-year-old son adopted by Woody and Mia defended his father in an interview with People magazine following Dylan’s open letter. “My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister,” said Moses, who’s now estranged from Mia and close to Woody. “And I hated him for her for years. I see now that this was a vengeful way to pay him back for falling in love with Soon-Yi. Of course Woody did not molest my sister,” he added. “She loved him and looked forward to seeing him when he would visit. She never hid from him until our mother succeeded in creating the atmosphere of fear and hate towards him. The day in question, there were six or seven of us in the house. We were all in public rooms and no one, not my father or sister, was off in any private spaces. My mother was conveniently out shopping. I don’t know if my sister really believes she was molested or is trying to please her mother. Pleasing my mother was very powerful motivation because to be on her wrong side was horrible.”

Dylan, who said Moses is now dead to her, responded with an equally strong statement. “This is such a betrayal to me and my whole family. My memories are the truth and they are mine and I will live with that for the rest of my life,” she said. “My mother never coached me. She never planted false memories in my brain. My memories are mine. I remember them. She was distraught when I told her. When I came forward with my story she was hoping against hope that I had made it up. In one of the most heartbreaking conversations I have ever had, she sat me down and asked me if I was telling the truth. She said that Dad said he didn’t do anything. and I said, ‘He’s lying.’”

On Wednesday, the New York Times revealed that the director may have the opportunity to respond to Dylan's letter. Although the newspaper typically doesn't publish direct responses, it is considering an exception in this case.

 

 

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