Everything is not fine on Woody Allen’s movie sets. Cast members of his past movies are giving their money to charity and his new movie with Amazon may not even get out the door due to the #MeToo movement and the growing sexual abuse and rape awareness.

Woody Allen 1992 Custody Suit by SyndicatedNews

Woody-Allen, COURT DECISION:
The child abuse accusations and his celebrity status
by SyndicatedNews

(A note from Nicholas Kristof: In 1993, accusations that Woody Allen had abused his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow, filled the headlines, part of a sensational story about the celebrity split between Allen and his girlfriend, Mia Farrow).

This is a case that has been written about endlessly, but this is the first time that Dylan Farrow herself has written about it in public. It’s important to note that Woody Allen was never prosecuted in this case and has consistently denied wrongdoing; he deserves the presumption of innocence.

So why publish an account of an old case on my blog? Partly because the Golden Globe lifetime achievement award to Allen ignited a debate about the propriety of the award. Partly because the root issue here isn’t celebrity but sex abuse.

And partly because countless people on all sides have written passionately about these events, but we haven’t fully heard from the young woman who was at the heart of them. I’ve written a column about this, but it’s time for the world to hear Dylan’s story in her own words.) 


What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. 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. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.

For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like. 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.

Woody Allen with his now wife Soon Yi Previn when he was her stepfather.


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.

These things happened so often, so routinely, so skillfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal. I thought this was how fathers doted on their daughters. But what he did to me in the attic felt different. I couldn’t keep the secret anymore.

When I asked my mother if her dad did to her what Woody Allen did to me, I honestly did not know the answer. I also didn’t know the firestorm it would trigger. I didn’t know that my father would use his sexual relationship with my sister to cover up the abuse he inflicted on me.

I didn’t know that he would accuse my mother of planting the abuse in my head and call her a liar for defending me. I didn’t know that I would be made to recount my story over and over again, to doctor after doctor, pushed to see if I’d admit I was lying as part of a legal battle I couldn’t possibly understand. At one point, my mother sat me down and told me that I wouldn’t be in trouble if I was lying – that I could take it all back. I couldn’t. It was all true.

But sexual abuse claims against the powerful stall more easily. There were experts willing to attack my credibility. There were doctors willing to gaslight an abused child.

After a custody hearing denied my father visitation rights, my mother declined to pursue criminal charges, despite findings of probable cause by the State of Connecticut – due to, in the words of the prosecutor, the fragility of the “child victim.” Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime. That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls.

I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself. That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, “who can say what happened,” to pretend that nothing was wrong. Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV.

Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face – on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television – I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart.

Last week, Woody Allen was nominated for his latest Oscar. But this time, I refuse to fall apart. For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away.

But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me – to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories – have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.

Today, I consider myself lucky. I am happily married. I have the support of my amazing brothers and sisters. I have a mother who found within herself a well of fortitude that saved us from the chaos a predator brought into our home.

But others are still scared, vulnerable, and struggling for the courage to tell the truth. The message that Hollywood sends matters for them.

What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?

Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.

So imagine your seven-year-old daughter being led into an attic by Woody Allen. Imagine she spends a lifetime stricken with nausea at the mention of his name. Imagine a world that celebrates her tormenter.

Are you imagining that? Now, what’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?

____________________________________

TIME LINE:

1. Although companions since 1980, Woody and Mia never married and never lived together; and by 1990 or earlier, they had grown distant from each other as each expressed concerns about the other’s relationship with their youngest children – Woody being overly devoted to Dylan Farrow (born on July 11, 1985 and adopted as a newborn) and Mia being overly focused on Satchel Farrow (born on December 19, 1987) and alienating him from Woody. [Satchel’s psychologist testified during the child custody hearing in March 1993 that from his earliest years Satchel would aggressively resist Woody’s attentions: “Satchel would push him away, would not acknowledge him…. If he would try to help Satchel getting out of bed or going into bed, Satchel would kick him, at times had scratched his face. They were in trouble.”]

2. Woody stayed aloof from Mia’s six children with Andre Previn, rarely even speaking to them; however, he was cordial to Moses Farrow, who Mia adopted at age 2 in 1980 (after her divorce from Previn in 1979). In 1990, Woody began acknowledging Soon-Yi Previn (born on October 8, 1970 and adopted at age 7) after Mia encouraged him to take her to a professional basketball game because he had no one to go with.

3. In January 1992, Mia discovered that Woody was having a sexual relationship with her 21-year-old adopted daughter with Andre Previn, Soon-Yi Previn. Soon-Yi later admitted to Mia that she and Woody first had sex on his birthday on December 1, 1991 – in that same month, Woody’s adoption of two of Mia’s other children, Moses Farrow, 13, and Dylan Farrow, 6, was finalized.

4. Six months later, in July 1992, at her Connecticut country home, Mia had a birthday party for her 7-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan. After Woody retired to the guest room for the night, Mia affixed to his bathroom door a note which called him a child molester: “Child molester at birthday party, molded and abused one sister, now focused on youngest sister, family disgusted.”

5. Less than a month later, on August 1, 1992, Mia called her psychologist after having learned that Woody’s affair with Soon-Yi was continuing: she described Woody as “satanic and evil,” pleaded with her psychologist to “find a way to stop him,” and told her that a week earlier she and Woody had been discussing the possibility of getting married, which she was still considering.

6. Four days later, on August 5, 1992, Mia phoned her psychologist again: “in contrast to her agitated state in other calls,” she was “extremely calm” and told her psychologist that “Dylan had begun complaining that Woody had abused her.”

7. Also on August 5, 1992, Mia’s longtime best friend, Casey Pascal, called to tell her that, the previous day, her babysitter saw “Woody kneeling on the floor holding Dylan, with his face in her lap” after the two women had left their children in Mia’s Connecticut home with Woody and another babysitter to go shopping together. Casey also said that her babysitter claimed to have lost track of Dylan for about 15 to 20 minutes on August 4, 1992 and that they later discovered Dylan without any underwear.

8. Also on August 5, 1992, Mia was scheduled to sign custody papers: she had worked out an arrangement with Woody allowing him visitation, and he agreed to keep casting her in his movies. In addition, they’d keep going on their annual, two-week trips to Europe as a family, and to the outside world, they’d remain Woody and Mia. However, before those papers arrived, Mia called her lawyer and said something very bad had happened: Woody had taken Dylan up to the attic and molested her by touching her private parts with his finger. Mia testified: “She said he took her into the attic and that he touched her in certain places, that he inserted a finger partially” – suspiciously, a very specific observation and description from a child who just turned 7. Mia also testified that from the time Dylan was 2 1/2 or 3 years old, she feared that Woody had a sexual attachment to Dylan, but Woody’s lawyer cast doubt on her assertion that his behavior was inappropriate by showing that she had consented to his adoption in 1991 of Moses and Dylan.

9. Over the next two or three days, Mia videotaped (edited in-camera) Dylan accusing Woody of molesting her. Mia’s nanny, Monica Thompson, said in deposition that it took Mia two or three days to videotape Dylan making the accusations, and at times Dylan appeared not to be interested in the process. “I know that the tape was made over the course of at least two and perhaps three days,” Monica said. “I was present when Ms. Farrow made a portion of that tape outdoors. I recall Ms. Farrow saying to Dylan at that time, ‘Dylan, what did daddy do . . . and what did he do next?’ Dylan appeared not to be interested, and Ms. Farrow would stop taping for a while and then continue.”

10. On August 5 and 6, 1992, Mia brought Dylan to her doctor for an exam – although there was no physical evidence of abuse, the doctor was obligated by law to report the allegations to authorities. Mia’s nanny, Monica Thompson, said in a sworn affidavit: “The day after the alleged incident, when she got to work, Mia took Dylan to the doctor. When they arrived home, Mia said Dylan had been ‘afraid to talk to the doctor.’ She took Dylan back to the doctor, and when they arrived home, Mia told me that ‘everything is OK now – everything is set’.”

11. On August 6, 1992, Mia made similar accusations of Woody molesting their 4 1/2-year-old son Satchel, but later dropped the charges because “its substance was too insane even for the instigator to stay with.” Woody said: “I hoped that despite many conflicts and much anger, that with calm and compromise I could obtain an agreement in the best interests of the children. Then, suddenly and appallingly I was accused of having molested my beloved 7-year-old daughter and hysterically the next day of molesting my dear 4 1/2-year-old son.”

12. Mia and her cohorts, her longtime best friend Casey Pascal, Casey’s babysitter, Alison Strickland, and Mia’s babysitter, Kristi Groteke, all testified to the same story at the child custody hearing in March 1993, claiming that they lost track of Dylan for about 15 to 20 minutes on August 4, 1992 while Mia and Casey were out shopping, and that they later discovered Dylan without any underwear. Alison, Casey’s babysitter, also claimed that she saw Woody with his head in Dylan’s lap, which made her feel uncomfortable (Woody testified that his head was not in her lap, but that he had knelt down to talk to her). Casey said, “I had to call Mia [to tell her about Alison’s allegations] and it was so horrific – I set the wheels in motion.” Mia’s nanny, Monica Thompson (who was not present on August 4, 1992, the day of the alleged abuse, and who resigned from her position in the Farrow household on January 25, 1993), said in deposition that on August 6, 1992, Kristi Groteke (Dylan’s babysitter beginning sometime in 1991) told her something different from what she later would testify to at the child custody hearing in 1993: On August 6, 1992, when Kristi drove Monica to the bus stop, she was “very upset;” Kristi told Monica “that she felt guilty allowing Ms. Farrow to say those things about Mr. Allen.” Monica also said in deposition that on August 6, 1992, Kristi said: “The day Mr. Allen spent with the kids, she did not have Dylan out of her sight for longer than five minutes and she did not remember Dylan being without her underwear.” Kristi Groteke resigned from her position in the Farrow household sometime after testifying at the child custody hearing in 1993: she immediately wrote a tell-all book about Mia and Woody, which was published in May 1994; in 1995, the book was turned into a mini-series by Fox Television, in which Kristi played herself.

13. Monica Thompson, Mia’s nanny, charged that: “Ms. Farrow set the stage to report the incident involving Dylan. For several weeks, Ms. Farrow insisted that Mr. Allen not be left alone with Dylan and wanted me to be with them at all times.” Monica also said in her deposition: “On several occasions Ms. Farrow asked me if I would be ‘on her side.’ Ms. Farrow has tried to get me to say that I would support her with these accusations.” Monica added that almost immediately after the alleged incident, Moses indicated doubts about what, if anything, had taken place: “Moses came over to me and said that he believes that Ms. Farrow had made up the accusation that was being said by Dylan,” Monica said in the sworn affidavit.

14. After the molestation reports were filed, Mia still wanted to work with Woody on the set of ‘Husbands and Wives.’ Mia also kept on with her plans to star in Woody’s next movie, ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery,’ and placed a call to meet with the wardrobe supervisor on August 9, 1992. The lead female role was written for Mia by Woody but Diane Keaton got the part following the abuse allegations; reportedly, Mia showed up for the first day’s shooting, much to Woody’s consternation.

15. After meeting on August 13, 1992, Woody felt Mia was trying to shake him down for $7 million, so on that day (seven days after he learned about the accusations), he began an action against Mia to obtain custody of their three children, Dylan Farrow, 7, and Moses Farrow, 14 (Woody’s adoption of them was finalized in December 1991) and Satchel Farrow, 5 (Woody’s biological son with Mia).

16. At the state police barracks in Litchfield, Connecticut, Woody was interviewed for three-and-a-half hours. He denied assaulting Dylan (Woody has always vehemently denied the abuse accusations). Accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior with a child are a very serious matter. Such accusations often lead to criminal investigations and referral to a child welfare or protection agency, and can result in criminal charges against the person being accused. The initial response of the person accused can have a significant, permanent impact on this situation. This is why you should avoid making any statements to law enforcement or other public agencies until you have consulted an attorney. Even making a statement of denial can be tricky in this situation if you have not obtained legal advice. If you try to say that you did not touch a child inappropriately, the other person may misinterpret your statement. You also may make a simple statement that seems innocuous, like admitting you talked to a child at a certain time or were alone with a child, only to have the statement used against you at a later time.

17. Woody denied ever having been in the attic of Mia’s country home, explaining that he wouldn’t even have known how to get to it [he “dislikes the country” and very seldom visited the home]. It was later clarified that the attic referenced by Dylan in her molestation allegations was actually a crawl space off the closet of Mia’s bedroom where the children sometimes played – after learning about this revised detail in the allegations and that “fibers consistent with his hair” had been found in the crawl space, Woody acknowledged that once or twice he had reached into the opening of the crawl space to grab one of the children or to hand them a soda, but he vehemently denied ever entering the crawl space. [Dory Previn, who was Andre Previn’s wife at the time Mia became pregnant with his twin sons, wrote a song about Mia, “Beware of Young Girls” – when asked at the child custody hearing in 1993 about the song, Mia said: “I know that it referred to me.” On the same 1970 album as that song is another song written and performed by Dory, titled, “With My Daddy in the Attic,” which is about an incestuous relationship between a father and his young daughter, suggesting a possible origin of the abuse allegations in the attic.]

18. Woody agreed to a polygraph examination (lie detector test) administered by a private polygraph examiner, which he passed – his lawyer advised him against submitting to a police polygraph examination since they are conducted for purely interrogation purposes. [Mia did not take a lie detector test but it is uncertain whether it was because she refused or was not asked.]

19. A team of experts (the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital and the New York State Department of Social Services) hired by authorities during a 14-month investigation in both Connecticut (where the original abuse accusations were filed) and New York (where second abuse accusations were filed) concluded that the reports of abuse were unfounded and ruled that no abuse had occurred.

20. Woody was never arrested, charged or prosecuted for any crime – there was no physical evidence of abuse, authorities concluded that the reports of abuse were unfounded, and a team of experts believed Dylan’s statements had a rehearsed quality and that she was coached by Mia.

21. Faced with a lack of evidence of abuse and the strong probability of coaching by Mia, the district attorney brought no charges against Woody – it was not because Mia “agreed to drop the charges” nor was it because the district attorney wanted “to spare a fragile complainant the trauma of a court appearance.”

22. In September 1993, State’s Attorney for the Litchfield Judicial District in Connecticut, Frank Maco, held a press conference to announce that, while he had “probable cause” to prosecute Woody on charges of sexual molestation of Dylan, he was “dropping the case to spare her the trauma of appearing in court.” Woody filed complaints asking the state bar counsel to disbar Maco and requested that the State Criminal Justice Commission discipline him for making an accusation without producing an indictment – Woody condemned Maco as “cowardly, dishonest and irresponsible.” The grievance panel revealed that on the same day of his press conference, Maco sent a copy of his statement to the judge in Manhattan who would decide whether to void, at Mia’s request, Woody’s adoption of Dylan and Moses. The disciplinary panel found “Maco’s handling of the child-molestation complaint against Woody was cause for ‘grave concern’ and may have prejudiced the legal battle between Woody and Mia.” A professor and expert on legal ethics criticized Maco, saying: “You don’t declare the man guilty and then say you’re not going to prosecute, leaving him to defend himself in the press. It’s a violation of Allen’s constitutional rights, in my view. I can’t overemphasize how remarkable this is.”

23. In 1993, Woody lost the child custody battle: in the ruling, the judge (disgusted by Woody and his relationship with Soon Yi) forbade his seeing Dylan and Moses and allowed court-supervised visits only with Satchel.

24. Just a short time after the custody ruling, Mia refused Woody any contact with Satchel, who Mia renamed Seamus, which he later changed to Ronan.

25. On October 5, 1994, Woody lost an appeal for relief from the custody ruling. Mia refused Woody contact with all three of the children (Moses, Dylan and Satchel Farrow).

26. In April 1997, Frank Maco, State’s Attorney for the Litchfield Judicial District in Connecticut, told Connecticut Magazine that, over the course of the 13 months, 7-year-old Dylan told her mother, psychologists, doctors, social workers and police that Woody touched her – with the tip of his right index finger – several times that day on August 4, 1992. Maco recalled that Dylan said: “He put his finger in my vagina. He made me lay on the floor all ways, on my back, on my side, my front. He kissed me all over. I didn’t like it. Daddy told me not to tell and he’d take me to Paris, but I did tell.” The allegation is very specific and the language used to describe the alleged abuse is very mature, well beyond the life experience and knowledge of a child who just turned 7.

27. Mia went on to adopt six more children (she remains single to this day). Woody and Soon-Yi married in 1997 and adopted two children together.

28. In 1995, Soon-Yi earned her Bachelor’s degree from Drew University; in 1998, she earned her Master’s degree in Special Education from Columbia University – she is not developmentally challenged as Mia’s camp has proclaimed.

29. On January 12, 2014, Woody was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes: during the event, Mia and Ronan published tweets that brought the 21-year-old sexual allegations back into the headlines. A few months earlier, in both October and November 2013, Mia was featured in Vanity Fair articles where she rehashed her 1992 interview with the magazine about the molestation allegations; Dylan first went public with her story in the November 2013 Vanity Fair piece and then published an open letter in the New York Times on February 1, 2014, but with many new details.

30. On February 5, 2014, Moses spoke out in defense of Woody, saying: “Of course Woody did not molest my sister. My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister. 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.” Moses re-established a relationship with Woody and became estranged from Mia. Woody’s other two children with Mia, Dylan (who now goes by the name Malone) and Satchel (who now goes by the name Ronan) continue to shun him.

31. One odd thing about that Vanity Fair piece in November 2013 was that the big news in the piece was supposed to be “Dylan Farrow Speaks Out” – what happened, just purely by chance, was that the news became, “Ronan Farrow May Be Frank Sinatra’s Son.” What was Dylan’s trigger for renewing the allegations 21 years later? She wanted attention, says book critic Janet Maslin, a friend very close to the story: “Dylan Farrow, I happen to know this through a friend very close to the story, was very unhappy that this suddenly wasn’t about her. And I think that’s that part of why she decided to start calling attention to herself. Of all the things that have been parsed by total strangers about what went on in that family, no one has ever dared to consider the sibling rivalry issues in there. It’s just too much to think about.”

32. Mia’s friend published an opinion about the renewed allegations at “The Common Ills” blogspot [http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/2014/02/mia-and-her-brood-drag-whatevers-left.html]


ALLEN v. FARROW

197 A.D.2d 327 (1994)

Woody Allen, Appellant,
v.
Maria V. Farrow, Also Known as Mia Farrow, Respondent

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, First Department.
May 12, 1994
Elkan Abramowitz of counsel (Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason & Silberberg [Jamie L. Kogan]; Phillips, Nizer, Benajmin, Krim & Ballon [Sheila Ginsberg Riesel, Julia Perles and Shelly Moroff]; and J. Martin Obten with her on the brief; attorneys), for appellant.
Eleanor B. Alter of counsel (Martin Juvelier, Marguerite Sullivan and Maxine Shapiro with her on the brief; Rosenman & Colin, attorneys), for respondent.
MURPHY, P. J., and SULLIVAN, J., concur with ROSS, J.; CARRO and WALLACH, JJ., dissent in part in an opinion by CARRO, J.
[197 A.D.2d 328]

ROSS, J.

In this special proceeding commenced by petitioner to obtain custody of, or increased visitation with, the infant children Moses Amadeus Farrow, Dylan O’Sullivan Farrow and Satchel Farrow, we are called upon to review the IAS Court’s decision which, inter alia, awarded custody of the three children to the respondent, denied the petitioner’s requests regarding visitation and awarded counsel fees to the respondent. Upon such review we conclude, for the reasons set forth below, that the determination of the IAS Court was in accordance with the best interests of these children, and accordingly, we affirm.

The petitioner and the respondent have brought themselves to this unhappy juncture primarily as a result of two recent events. These are, Mr. Allen’s affair with Soon-Yi Previn and the alleged sexual abuse of Dylan O’Sullivan Farrow by Mr. Allen. While the parties had difficulties which grew during Ms. Farrow’s pregnancy with Satchel, it was the discovery of the relationship between Mr. Allen and Ms. Previn that intensified Ms. Farrow’s concerns about Mr. Allen’s behavior toward Dylan, and resulted in the retention of counsel by both parties. While various aspects of this matter remain unclear,

[197 A.D.2d 329]

it is evident that each party assigns the blame for the current state of affairs to the other.

The parties’ respective arguments are very clear. The petitioner maintains that he was forced to commence this proceeding in order to preserve his parental rights to the three infant children, because the respondent commenced and continues to engage in a campaign to alienate him from his children and to ultimately defeat his legal rights to them. The petitioner contends, inter alia, that the respondent seeks to accomplish her goals primarily through manipulation of the children’s perceptions of him. He wishes to obtain custody, ostensibly to counteract the detrimental psychological effects the respondent’s actions have had on his children, and to provide them with a more stable atmosphere in which to develop. Mr. Allen specifically denies the allegations that he sexually abused Dylan and characterizes them as part of Ms. Farrow’s extreme overreaction to his admitted relationship with Ms. Previn.

The respondent maintains that the petitioner has shown no genuine parental interest in, nor any regard for, the children’s welfare and that any interest he has shown has been inappropriate and even harmful. Respondent cites the fact that the petitioner has commenced and maintained an intimate sexual relationship with her daughter Soon-Yi Previn, which he has refused to curtail, despite the obvious ill effects it has had on all of the children and the especially profound effect it has had on Moses. It is also contended that petitioner has at best, an inappropriately intense interest in, and at worst, an abusive relationship with, the parties’ daughter Dylan. Further, the respondent maintains that petitioner’s contact with the parties’ biological son, Satchel, is harmful to the child in that petitioner represents an emotional threat and has on at least one occasion threatened physical harm. Respondent contends that the petitioner’s only motive in commencing this proceeding was to retaliate against the allegations of child sexual abuse made against him by Ms. Farrow.

Certain salient facts concerning both Mr. Allen’s and Ms. Farrow’s relationships to their children and to each other are not disputed. Review of these facts in an objective manner and the conclusions that flow from them, demonstrate that the determination of the IAS Court as to both custody and visitation is amply supported by the record before this Court.

From the inception of Mr. Allen’s relationship with Ms. Farrow in 1980, until a few months after the adoption of

[197 A.D.2d 330]

Dylan O’Sullivan Farrow on June 11, 1985, Mr. Allen wanted nothing to do with Ms. Farrow’s children. Although Mr. Allen and Ms. Farrow attempted for approximately six months to have a child of their own, Mr. Allen did so apparently only after Ms. Farrow promised to assume full responsibility for the child. Following the adoption however, Mr. Allen became interested in developing a relationship with the newly adopted Dylan. While previously he rarely spent time in the respondent’s apartment, after the adoption of Dylan he went to the respondent’s Manhattan apartment more often, visited Ms. Farrow’s Connecticut home and even accompanied the Farrow family on vacations to Europe. Allen also developed a relationship with Moses Farrow, who had been adopted by the respondent in 1980 and was seven years old at the time of Dylan’s adoption. However, Allen remained distant from Farrow’s other six children.

In 1986 Ms. Farrow expressed a desire to adopt another child. Mr. Allen, while not enthusiastic at the prospect of the adoption of Dylan in 1985, was much more amenable to the idea in 1986. Before the adoption could be completed Ms. Farrow became pregnant with the parties’ son Satchel. While the petitioner testified that he was happy at the idea of becoming a father, the record supports the finding that Mr. Allen showed little or no interest in the pregnancy. It is not disputed that Ms. Farrow began to withdraw from Mr. Allen during the pregnancy and that afterwards she did not wish Satchel to become attached to Mr. Allen.

According to Mr. Allen, Ms. Farrow became inordinately attached to the newborn Satchel to the exclusion of the other children. He viewed this as especially harmful to Dylan and began spending more time with her, ostensibly to make up for the lack of attention shown her by Ms. Farrow after the birth of Satchel. Mr. Allen maintains that his interest in and affection for Dylan always has been paternal in nature and never sexual. The various psychiatric experts who testified or otherwise provided reports did not conclude that Allen’s behavior toward Dylan prior to August of 1992 was explicitly sexual in nature. However, the clear consensus was that his interest in Dylan was abnormally intense in that he made inordinate demands on her time and focused on her to the exclusion of Satchel and Moses even when they were present.

The record demonstrates that Ms. Farrow expressed concern to Allen about his relationship with Dylan, and that Allen expressed his concern to Ms. Farrow about her relationship

[197 A.D.2d 331]

with Satchel. In 1990 both Dylan and Satchel were evaluated by clinical psychologists. Dr. Coates began treatment of Satchel in 1990. In April of 1991 Dylan was referred to Dr. Schultz, a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of young children with serious emotional problems.

In 1990 at about the same time that the parties were growing distant from each other and expressing their concerns about the other’s relationship with their youngest children, Mr. Allen began acknowledging Farrow’s daughter Soon-Yi Previn. Previously he treated Ms. Previn in the same way he treated Ms. Farrow’s other children from her prior marriage, rarely even speaking to them. In September of 1991 Ms. Previn began to attend Drew College in New Jersey. In December 1991 two events coincided. Mr. Allen’s adoptions of Dylan and Moses were finalized and Mr. Allen began his sexual relationship with their sister Soon-Yi Previn.

In January of 1992, Mr. Allen took the photographs of Ms. Previn, which were discovered on the mantelpiece in his apartment by Ms. Farrow and were introduced into evidence at the IAS proceeding. Mr. Allen in his trial testimony stated that he took the photos at Ms. Previn’s suggestion and that he considered them erotic and not pornographic. We have viewed the photographs and do not share Mr. Allen’s characterization of them. We find the fact that Mr. Allen took them at a time when he was formally assuming a legal responsibility for two of Ms. Previn’s siblings to be totally unacceptable. The distinction Mr. Allen makes between Ms. Farrow’s other children and Dylan, Satchel and Moses is lost on this Court. The children themselves do not draw the same distinction that Mr. Allen does. This is sadly demonstrated by the profound effect his relationship with Ms. Previn has had on the entire family. Allen’s testimony that the photographs of Ms. Previn “were taken, as I said before, between two consenting adults wanting to do this” demonstrates a chosen ignorance of his and Ms. Previn’s relationships to Ms. Farrow, his three children and Ms. Previn’s other siblings. His continuation of the relationship, viewed in the best possible light, shows a distinct absence of judgment. It demonstrates to this Court Mr. Allen’s tendency to place inappropriate emphasis on his own wants and needs and to minimize and even ignore those of his children. At the very minimum, it demonstrates an absence of any parenting skills.

We recognize Mr. Allen’s acknowledgment of the pain his relationship with Ms. Previn has caused the family. We also

[197 A.D.2d 332]

note his testimony that he tried to insulate the rest of the family from the “dispute” that resulted, and tried to “deescalate the situation” by attempting to “placate” Ms. Farrow. It is true that Ms. Farrow’s failure to conceal her feelings from the rest of the family and the acting out of her feelings of betrayal and anger toward Mr. Allen enhanced the effect of the situation on the rest of her family. We note though that the reasons for her behavior, however prolonged and extreme, are clearly visible in the record. On the other hand the record contains no acceptable explanation for Allen’s commencement of the sexual relationship with Ms. Previn at the time he was adopting Moses and Satchel, or for the continuation of that relationship at the time he was supposedly experiencing the joys of fatherhood.

While the petitioner’s testimony regarding his attempts to de-escalate the dispute and to insulate the family from it, displays a measure of concern for his three children, it is clear that he should have realized the inevitable consequences of his actions well before his relationship with Ms. Previn became intimate. Allen’s various inconsistent statements to Farrow of his intentions regarding Ms. Previn and his attempt to have Dr. Schultz explain the relationship to Dylan in such a manner as to exonerate himself from any wrong doing, make it difficult for this Court to find that his expressed concern for the welfare of the family is genuine.

As we noted above, Mr. Allen maintains that Ms. Farrow’s allegations concerning the sexual abuse of Dylan were fabricated by Ms. Farrow both as a result of her rage over his relationship with Ms. Previn and as part of her continued plan to alienate him from his children. However, our review of the record militates against a finding that Ms. Farrow fabricated the allegations without any basis. Unlike the court at IAS, we do not consider the conclusions reached by Doctors Coates and Schultz and by the Yale-New Haven team, to be totally unpersuasive. While the tendency of Dylan to withdraw into a fantasy and the inconsistencies in her account of the events of August 4, 1992, noted particularly by the Yale-New Haven team, must be taken into account in the evaluation of these serious allegations, the testimony given at trial by the individuals caring for the children that day, the videotape of Dylan made by Ms. Farrow the following day and the accounts of Dylan’s behavior toward Mr. Allen both before and after the alleged instance of abuse, suggest that the abuse did occur. While the evidence in support of the allegations

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remains inconclusive, it is clear that the investigation of the charges in and of itself could not have left Dylan unaffected.

Any determination of issues of child custody or visitation must serve the best interests of the child and that which will best promote the child’s welfare (Domestic Relations Law § 70; Eschbach v Eschbach, 56 N.Y.2d 167, 171; Friederwitzer v Friederwitzer, 55 N.Y.2d 89, 93-94). The existence of a prior arrangement of custody agreed upon by the parties, should be given weighty but not absolute priority in the absence of extraordinary circumstances (Matter of Nehra v Uhlar, 43 N.Y.2d 242, 251). Such priority is afforded in the belief that stability in a child’s life is in the child’s best interests (Eschbach v Eschbach, supra, at 171). The court, however is not bound by the existence of a prior agreement and has the discretion to order changes in custody as well as other modifications when the totality of circumstances warrants its doing so in the best interests of the child (Eschbach, supra, at 172). Primary among those circumstances is the quality of the home environment and the parental guidance the custodial parent provides for the child (supra). It has long been recognized that it is often in the child’s best interests to continue to live with his or her siblings (supra, at 173). “While this, too, is not an absolute, the stability and companionship to be gained from keeping the children together is an important factor for the court to consider” (supra, at 173).

The weighing of the numerous factors to be considered “requires an evaluation of the testimony, character and sincerity of all the parties involved in this type of dispute” (Eschbach, supra, at 173). “Generally, such an evaluation can best be made by the trial court, which has direct access to the parties * * * Appellate courts should be reluctant to substitute their own evaluation of these subjective factors for that of the nisi prius court [citations omitted], and if they do, should articulate the reasons for so doing” (supra, at 173-174).

It was noted by the IAS Court that the psychiatric experts agreed that Mr. Allen may be able to fulfill a positive role in Dylan’s therapy. We note specifically the opinion of Dr. Brodzinsky, the impartial expert called by both parties, who concluded that contact with Mr. Allen is necessary to Dylan’s future development, but that initially any such visitation should be conducted in a therapeutic context. The IAS Court structured that visitation accordingly and provided that a further review of Allen’s visitation with Dylan would be considered after an evaluation of Dylan’s progress.

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Although the investigation of the abuse allegations have not resulted in a conclusive finding, all of the evidence received at trial supports the determination as to custody and visitation with respect to this child. There would be no beneficial purpose served in disturbing the custody arrangement. Moreover, even if the abuse did not occur, it is evident that there are issues concerning Mr. Allen’s inappropriately intense relationship with this child that can be resolved only in a therapeutic setting. At the very least, the process of investigation itself has left the relationship between Mr. Allen and Dylan severely damaged. The consensus is that both Mr. Allen and Ms. Farrow need to be involved in the recovery process. The provision for further review of the visitation arrangement embodied in the trial court’s decision adequately protects the petitioner’s rights and interests at this time.

With respect to Satchel, the IAS Court denied the petitioner’s request for unsupervised visitation. While the court stated that it was not concerned for Satchel’s physical safety, it was concerned by Mr. Allen’s “demonstrated inability to understand the impact that his words and deeds have upon the emotional well being of the children”. We agree. The record supports the conclusion that Mr. Allen may, if unsupervised, influence Satchel inappropriately, and disregard the impact exposure to Mr. Allen’s relationship with Satchel’s sister, Ms. Previn, would have on the child. His failure to understand the effect of such exposure upon Satchel as well as upon his other children is evidenced by his statement on direct examination in which he stated: “If you ask me personally, I would say the children, the children adore Soon Yi, they adore me, they would be delighted, if you asked me this personally, I would say they would be delighted and have fun with us, being taken places with us. But, I don’t want to give you my amateur opinion on that. That’s how I feel. And I know it counts for very little.” The record indicates that Ms. Previn when not at college spends most of her time with Mr. Allen. Contact between Ms. Previn and her siblings in the context of the relationship with Mr. Allen would be virtually unavoidable even if Mr. Allen chose to insulate his children from the relationship. Expert medical testimony indicated that it would be harmful for Ms. Previn not to be reintegrated into the family. However, the inquiry here concerns the best interests of Dylan, Moses and Satchel. Their best interests would clearly be served by contact with their sister Soon-Yi, personally and not in Mr. Allen’s presence. Seeing both Ms. Previn

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and Mr. Allen together in the unsupervised context envisioned by Mr. Allen would, at this early stage, certainly be detrimental to the best interests of the children.

It has been held that the desires of the child are to be considered, but that it must be kept in mind that those desires can be manipulated (Friederwitzer v Friederwitzer, supra, at 94). In considering the custody and visitation decision concerning Moses, who is now a teenager, we cannot ignore his expressed desires. The record shows that he had a beneficial relationship with the petitioner prior to the events of December 1991. However, that relationship has been gravely damaged. While Moses’ feelings were certainly affected by his mother’s obvious pain and anger, we concluded that it would not be in Moses’ best interests to be compelled to see Mr. Allen, if he does not wish to.

Therefore, we hold that in view of the totality of the circumstances, the best interests of these children would be served by remaining together in the custody of Ms. Farrow, with the parties abiding by the visitation schedule established by the trial court.

With respect to the award of counsel fees we note that the record demonstrates that Mr. Allen’s resources far out-pace those of Ms. Farrow. Additionally, we note the relative lack of merit of Mr. Allen’s position in commencing this proceeding for custody. It became apparent, during oral argument, that there was serious doubt that Mr. Allen truly desired custody. It has been held that “in exercising its discretionary power to award counsel fees, a court should review the financial circumstances of both parties together with all the other circumstances of the case, which may include the relative merit of the parties’ positions” (DeCabrera v Cabrera-Rosete, 70 N.Y.2d 879, 881). We find no abuse of discretion in the court’s award of counsel fees in this case.

Accordingly, the judgment of Supreme Court, New York County (Elliot Wilk, J.), entered July 13, 1993, which, inter alia, denied the petitioner Woody Allen’s request for custody of Moses Amadeus Farrow, Dylan O’Sullivan Farrow, and Satchel Farrow, set forth the terms of visitation between the petitioner and his children and awarded Ms. Farrow counsel fees, is affirmed in all respects, without costs.

CARRO, J. (dissenting in part).

I agree with the majority’s conclusions, except for the affirmance of the order of visitation

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with respect to Mr. Allen’s son Satchel, which I find unduly restrictive.

There is strong evidence in the record from neutral observers that Mr. Allen and Satchel basically have a warm and loving father-son relationship, but that their relationship is in jeopardy, in large measure because Mr. Allen is being estranged and alienated from his son by the current custody and visitation arrangement. Frances Greenberg and Virginia Lehman, two independent social workers employed to oversee visitation with Satchel, testified how “Mr. Allen would welcome Satchel by hugging him, telling him how much he loved him, and how much he missed him.” Also described by both supervisors “was a kind of sequence that Mr. Allen might say, I love you as much as the river, and Satchel would say something to the effect that I love you as much as New York City * * * then Mr. Allen might say, I love you as much as the stars, and Satchel would say, I love you as much as the universe.” Sadly, there was also testimony from those witnesses that Satchel had told Mr. Allen: “I like you, but I am not supposed to love you;” that when Mr. Allen asked Satchel if he would send him a postcard from a planned trip to California with Ms. Farrow, Satchel said “I can’t [because] Mommy won’t let me;” and on one occasion when Satchel indicated that he wanted to stay with Mr. Allen longer than the allotted two-hour visit, “Satchel did say he could not stay longer, that his mother had told him that two hours was sufficient.” Perhaps most distressing, Satchel “indicated to Mr. Allen that he was seeing a doctor that was going to help him not to see Mr. Allen anymore, and he indicated that he was supposed to be seeing this doctor perhaps eight or ten times, at the end of which he would no longer have to see Mr. Allen.”

In contrast to what apparently is being expressed by Ms. Farrow about Mr. Allen to Satchel, Mr. Allen has been reported to say only positive things to Satchel about Ms. Farrow, and conveys only loving regards to Moses and Dylan through Satchel. Thus I find little evidence in the record to support the majority’s conclusion that “Mr. Allen may, if unsupervised, influence Satchel inappropriately, and disregard the impact exposure to Mr. Allen’s relationship with Satchel’s sister, Ms. Previn, would have on the child.” (Majority opn, at 334.)

The majority’s quotation of Mr. Allen’s testimony with respect to Soon-Yi in support of its conclusion respecting

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visitation should be viewed in the context of Dr. David Brodzinsky’s testimony. Dr. Brodzinsky is an expert in adoption with considerable experience in court-related evaluations of custody and visitation disputes, who was retained by the guardian for Dylan and Moses in a pending Surrogate’s Court proceeding involving the parties. Dr. Brodzinsky was thus a completely neutral expert, jointly called by Mr. Allen and Ms. Farrow, and he had extensive contact with the relevant family members and mental health professionals and reviewed the pertinent reports and transcripts prior to testifying. It was his clinical judgment that Mr. Allen had more awareness of the consequences of his actions than he was able to articulate in the adversarial process, and he was optimistic about Mr. Allen’s ability to accept his share of responsibility for what had taken place in light of his love for his children, his capacity for perspective-taking and empathy, and his motivation and openness toward the ongoing therapeutic process. In addition, Dr. Susan Coates, Satchel’s therapist until December 1992, and the only expert to testify about Satchel’s mental health, stated that Mr. Allen’s parental relationship with Satchel was essential to Satchel’s healthy development.

“It is the firmly established policy of this State * * * that, wherever possible, the best interests of a child lie in his being nurtured and guided by both of his natural parents.” (Daghir v Daghir, 82 A.D.2d 191, 193 [Mollen, P. J.], affd 56 N.Y.2d 938.) “Simply stated, a parent may not be deprived of his or her right to reasonable and meaningful access to the children by the marriage unless exceptional circumstances have been presented to the court * * * [i.e.,] where either the exercise of such right is inimical to the welfare of the children or the parent has in some manner forfeited his or her right to such access.” (Strahl v Strahl, 66 A.D.2d 571, 574 [Titone, J.], affd 49 N.Y.2d 1036.)

I do not believe that Mr. Allen’s visitation with Satchel for a mere two hours, three times a week, under supervision, is reasonable and meaningful under the circumstances, or that exceptional circumstances are presented that warrant such significant restriction on visitation with Satchel. Mr. Allen and Satchel clearly need substantial quality time together to nurture and renew their bonds and to foster a warm and loving father-son relationship. Obviously this cannot occur overnight; but more significantly, it is almost inconceivable that it will occur even over an extended period of time if visitation is limited to three two-hour periods per week under

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the supervision of strangers, as ordered by the trial court and affirmed by the majority. Accordingly I would modify the judgment appealed from to provide that Mr. Allen shall have unsupervised visitation with Satchel for four hours, three times weekly, plus alternate Saturdays and Sundays for the entire day, plus alternate holidays to be agreed upon by the parties (see, Cesario v Cesario, 168 A.D.2d 911; Shink v Shink, 140 A.D.2d 506; Armando v Armando, 114 A.D.2d 875).

Motion 104 by respondent-respondent to strike portions of appellant’s reply brief is denied.

Cross motion 229 by appellant for costs and counsel fees in responding to motion 104 denied.

Judgment, Supreme Court, New York County, entered July 13, 1993, affirmed, without costs.

Motion to strike portions of reply brief is denied.

Motion for costs and fees is denied.



EXCLUSIVE TO INF. PLEASE CALL BEFORE USAGE. September 22, 2013: Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein is photographed walking on Madison Avenue with Woody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi Previn before inviting them to his house in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Elder Ordonez/INFphoto.com Ref: infusny-160|sp|EXCLUSIVE TO INF. PLEASE CALL BEFORE USAGE.

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