A New Piece By A PBS Documentarian Makes The Argument That Woody Allen Is Not A Child Molester

While Woody Allen was receiving the Cecil B. Demille Award at the Golden Globes (not that he showed up to collect it, he didn’t), both Mia Farrow and her son Ronan each tweeted separate disses about it, shrewdly drawing the public’s attention to some of the grosser molestation allegations against Woody Allen, the details of which most people had forgotten.

Of course, there’s a reason Woody Allen was never prosecuted in the first place – if there weren’t some serious flaws with the evidence against him, he surely would’ve been. And if the allegations against Woody Allen are worth remembering, so too is his defense. Robert B. Weide, who directed a PBS documentary about Woody Allen (and who also executive produced Curb Your Enthusiasm), wrote a piece for The Daily Beast yesterday, laying out the reasons why he’s not convinced of the allegations against Allen. He also corrects some of the most commonly miss-cited facts about Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, and Soon-Yi.

Weide even wrote out his fact check in an internet-friendly numbered list. Smart man.

#1: Soon-Yi was Woody’s daughter. False.

#2:  Soon-Yi was Woody’s step-daughter. False.

#3:  Soon-Yi was Woody and Mia’s adopted daughter. False. Soon-Yi was the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and André Previn. Her full name was Soon-Yi Farrow Previn.

#4:  Woody and Mia were married. False.

#5:  Woody and Mia lived together. False. Woody lived in his apartment on Fifth Ave. Mia and her kids lived on Central Park West. In fact, Woody never once stayed over night at Mia’s apartment in 12 years.

#6:  Woody and Mia had a common-law marriage. False. New York State does not recognize common law marriage. Even in states that do, a couple has to cohabitate for a certain number of years.

#7:  Soon-Yi viewed Woody as a father figure. False. Soon-Yi saw Woody as her mother’s boyfriend. Her father figure was her adoptive father, André Previn.

#8: Soon-Yi was underage when she and Woody started having relations. False. She was either 19 or 21. (Her year of birth in Korea was undocumented, but believed to be either 1970 or ’72.)

#9:  Soon-Yi was borderline retarded. Ha! She’s smart as a whip, has a degree from Columbia University and speaks more languages than you.

#10:  Woody was grooming Soon-Yi from an early age to be his child bride. Oh, come on! According to court documents and Mia’s own memoir, until 1990 (when Soon-Yi was 18 or 20), Woody “had little to do with any of the Previn children, (but) had the least to do with Soon-Yi” so Mia encouraged him to spend more time with her. Woody started taking her to basketball games, and the rest is tabloid history. So he hardly “had his eye on her” from the time she was a child.

I thought I understood this story, and even I flubbed some of those. So Mia Farrow was married to André Previn until 1979, dated Woody Allen from 1980 to 1992 (never marrying), and may have had affairs with Frank Sinatra throughout that time (to whom she was married from 1966 to 1968). Got it? Oh, and about that Sinatra thing…

To even say that Ronan is “possibly” Sinatra’s son implies that Mia was fooling around with her ex-husband decades after their divorce. Backdating from Ronan’s birthdate, it means that Farrow and Sinatra “hooked up” in March of 1987 when Mia was 42 and Old Blue Eyes was 71. This sort of dispels the myth that Woody and Mia had this idyllic, loving, monogamous relationship until Woody threw it all away in 1992, since Mia was apparently diddling her ex, five years earlier. If Mia was “just kidding” about the Sinatra scenario, it was an awfully insensitive thing to say, considering the fact that Sinatra’s wife, Barbara, is still very much alive.

Well, considering Farrow had a history of hooking up with married dudes and Frank Sinatra was Frank Sinatra, it doesn’t seem that implausible. But we’re getting off track. The most serious accusation against Woody Allen, obviously, was that he molested Farrow’s 7-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan. Weide addresses that:

A brief but chilling synopsis of the accusation is as follows: On August 4, 1992, almost four months after the revelation about Woody and Soon-Yi’s relationship understandably ignited a firestorm within the Farrow household, Woody was visiting Frog Hollow, the Farrow country home in Bridgewater, Connecticut, where Mia and several of her kids were staying. During an unsupervised moment, Woody allegedly took Dylan into the attic and, shall we say, “touched her inappropriately.” Later in the day, it was alleged that the child was wearing her sundress, but that her underpants were missing. The following day, Mia’s daughter allegedly told her mother what had happened, and Mia put the child’s recounting of the story on videotape as evidence. […]

I know I’m treading a delicate path here, and opening myself up to accusations of “blaming the victim.” However, I’m merely floating scenarios to consider, and you can think what you will. But if Mia’s account is true, it means that in the middle of custody and support negotiations, during which Woody needed to be on his best behavior, in a house belonging to his furious ex-girlfriend, and filled with people seething mad at him, Woody, who is a well-known claustrophobic, decided this would be the ideal time and place to take his daughter into an attic and molest her, quickly, before a house full of children and nannies noticed they were both missing. […]

As for the evidentiary videotape of young Dylan’s claims, it’s been noted that there were several starts and stops in the recording, essentially creating in-camera “edits” to the young girl’s commentary. This raises questions as to what was happening when the tape wasn’t running. Was Mia “coaching” her daughter off-camera, as suggested by the investigators? Mia says no—she merely turned the camera on whenever Dylan starting talking about what Daddy did. Maybe we should take Mia at her word on this. Since I wasn’t there, I think it’s good policy not to presume what took place. […]

On April 20, 1993, a sworn statement was entered into evidence by Dr. John M. Leventhal, who headed the Yale-New Haven Hospital investigative team looking into the abuse charges. An article from the New York Times dated May 4, 1993, includes some interesting excerpts of their findings. As to why the team felt the charges didn’t hold water, Leventhal states: “We had two hypotheses: one, that these were statements made by an emotionally disturbed child and then became fixed in her mind. And the other hypothesis was that she was coached or influenced by her mother. We did not come to a firm conclusion. We think that it was probably a combination.”

There’s much, much more in Weide’s original article, and I’d urge you to give it a read if you have the time. He also points out that Mia Farrow’s brother is currently serving 10 years for child molestation, which is a strange bit of trivia, though neither here nor there. (He also points out that Farrow has publicly defended Roman Polanski, her director in Rosemary’s Baby).

The rub, for me, is that rehashing the initial allegations against Woody Allen felt like public’s collective self-flagellation for “forgetting” that Woody Allen might be a molester, and for allowing ourselves to enjoy subsequent Woody Allen films divorced from that. Now that we’ve rehashed all the arguments for and against, I think the more likely truth is that now, just like in the mid nineties, both cases sound equally plausible, and the only thing that’s certain is that we’re never going to know the truth. Enjoying a Woody Allen film doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten, maybe it just means we don’t know. I sure don’t.