What happened between Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow one afternoon in August 1992 has been in dispute for three decades.
On Sunday, the four-part HBO docuseries “Allen v. Farrow” will once again delve into the case — which pits the Oscar-winning filmmaker against his daughter, Dylan Farrow. Allen has accused Mia Farrow, his ex and Dylan’s mother, of “relentlessly coaching” Dylan Farrow as a child to accuse him of molestation. The reason, he has said, was to get revenge for his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, Mia Farrow’s daughter, whom he married in 1997.
Allen has never been charged with a crime, and authorities seemed torn on whether he should be when the accusations against him first came to light. Here is a timeline of the accusations, and the personal and professional fallout for everyone involved.
February 1992: Mia Farrow discovered nude photos of Soon-Yi Previn in Allen’s home. He soon confessed to an affair with Soon-Yi Previn, who was roughly 20 at the time. (Her exact age is unknown because of the circumstances of her adoption.)
Aug. 5, 1992: Mia Farrow said Dylan Farrow told her that Allen touched her inappropriately in an attic-like area of their Connecticut house, told her to remain still and touched her “private part.” The child said he promised to take her to Paris and let her be in a movie, according to a November 1992 Vanity Fair article.
Vanity Fair said Allen and Mia Farrow had been preparing to sign an elaborate child-support-and-custody agreement the next day, Aug. 6, which would have given Mia Farrow $6,000 a month for the support of Satchel, their biological child, and their son, 15-year-old Moses. Allen and Farrow had adopted both Moses and Dylan. (Satchel later changed his name to Ronan, and many have speculated — including Allen — that Frank Sinatra could be Ronan Farrow’s biological father.)
Aug. 13, 1992: Allen’s lawyers, notified of the allegation, pre-emptively filed a custody suit against Mia Farrow, accusing her of being an unfit mother.
August 1992-1993: Connecticut police and prosecutors investigated the abuse claims against Allen. Vanity Fair said Dylan Farrow was prepared at the time to take the stand and testify against Allen.
Nov. 22, 1992: Allen gave his side on “60 Minutes,” saying in the interview:
A gigantic industry has been built on a total non-event, and when I say total non-event, I mean total non-event. It wasn’t — it wasn’t as if, you know, I tickled my daughter or something and much has been exaggerated. I’m saying nothing at all … I’m 57. Isn’t it illogical that I’m going to, at the height of a very bitter, acrimonious custody fight, drive up to Connecticut where nobody likes me in a house — I’m in a house full of enemies. I mean, Mia was so enraged at me and she had gotten all the kids to be angry at me, that I’m going to drive up there, and suddenly, on visitation, pick this moment in my life to become a child molester?
May 1993: During the custody fight, a doctor who led the investigation and interviewed Dylan Farrow nine times said he had doubts about her accusations against Allen. Dr. John M. Leventhal said she has changed key details, like whether Allen touched her vagina, and said her accounts had a “rehearsed quality.”
“We had two hypotheses: one, that these were statements that were made by an emotionally disturbed child and then became fixed in her mind,” Leventhal said, according to the New York Times.“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.”
June 1993: In a scathing judgment against Allen, a Manhattan judge ruled that Mia Farrow should receive custody of the children, and that he was not convinced “that the evidence proves conclusively that there was no sexual abuse.” The judge also said psychotherapists who interviewed Dylan Farrow had their judgement “colored by their loyalty to Mr. Allen,” according to the Times.
The judge also blasted Allen for his relationship with Previn, saying it harmed both her and her adoptive siblings. “Having isolated Soon-Yi from her family, he left her with no visible support system,” Justice Elliott Wilk wrote.
September 1993: Connecticut state’s attorney Frank S. Maco announced that while he found “probable cause” to prosecute Allen, he was dropping the case because Dylan was too “fragile” to deal with a trial. Mia Farrow agreed with the decision, he said.
Maco told People that Dylan was “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.”
Allen later condemned Maco as “cowardly, dishonest and irresponsible” for saying he had “probable cause” without releasing his evidence.
Dec. 24, 1997: Allen and Previn married. (They remain together today.)
Feb. 1, 2014: Dylan Farrow spoke out about the alleged abuse on the blog of New York Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristof. The account was strikingly consistent with the one in Vanity Fair more than two decades earlier, including the details about the attic-like space and the promise of a trip to Paris.
On the same day, Maco, the now-retired prosecutor, told The Associated Press that the statute of limitations to bring any charges ran out at least 15 years earlier.
Feb. 5, 2014: Moses Farrow, who was adopted by Allen and Farrow, said that his mother coached Dylan Farrow when she was a child: “My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister,” Moses, then 36, told People. “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.”
He added: “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.”
Feb. 7, 2014: Allen again denied the accusations, saying the “attic” account was clearly drawn from the 1970 Dory Previn song “With My Daddy in the Attic,” the lyrics of which appear to be about incest.
He noted that Mia Farrow was likely familiar with Dory Previn’s work: “It was on the same record as the song Dory Previn had written about Mia’s betraying their friendship by insidiously stealing her husband, André, ‘Beware of Young Girls,’” he wrote.
May 11, 2016: Ronan Farrow wrote about the accusations in a column titled, “My Father, Woody Allen, and the Danger of Questions Unasked.”
Oct. 10, 2017: Ronan Farrow reported on sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein for the New Yorker, days after another explosive Weinstein story in the New York Times. The Weinstein reports help launch the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, which drew new attention to the accusations against Allen.
Jan. 18, 2018: Dylan Farrow spoke out to CBS News and shared largely the same account she shared in 2014.
Allen responded: “Dylan’s older brother Moses has said that he witnessed their mother … relentlessly coaching Dylan, trying to drum into her that her father was a dangerous sexual predator. It seems to have worked — and, sadly, I’m sure Dylan truly believes what she says.”
Dylan Farrow told CBS: “What I don’t understand is, how is this crazy story of me being brainwashed and coached more believable than what I’m saying about being sexually assaulted by my father?”
Jan. 29, 2018: After many of Allen’s past stars collaborators distanced themselves from him, Diane Keaton stood by him. “Woody Allen is my friend and I continue to believe him,” she tweeted. “It might be of interest to take a look at the ’60 Minutes’ interview from 1992 and see what you think.”
May 23, 2018: Moses Farrow again defended his father, saying Mia Farrow coached Dylan to lie. “Given the incredibly inaccurate and misleading attacks on my father, Woody Allen, I feel that I can no longer stay silent as he continues to be condemned for a crime he did not commit,” Moses Farrow wrote in a blog post titled “A Son Speaks Out.” In the piece, Moses Farrow said his mother was well-versed in “coaching, drilling, scripting, and rehearsing — in essence, brainwashing” her children. Moses said he “witnessed siblings, some blind or physically disabled, dragged down a flight of stairs to be thrown into a bedroom or a closet, then having the door locked from the outside.” He says his mother slapped his face or ordered him to stand naked in front of his siblings when he wasn’t behaving the way she wanted him to. In response, Ronan Farrow defended his mother and calls Moses’ blog part of a “smear campaign.”
Sept. 16, 2018: Soon-Yi Previn broke her long silence about the situation, defending Allen and saying she can’t “come up with a pleasant memory” about Mia Farrow. “What’s happened to Woody is so upsetting, so unjust,” she told New York magazine, adding that Farrow “has taken advantage of the #MeToo movement and paraded Dylan [Farrow] as a victim. And a whole new generation is hearing about it when they shouldn’t.” Previn said her mother, who adopted her when she was a small child, “wasn’t maternal to me from the get-go” and would “arbitrarily” show “her power” by slapping her and calling her “stupid” or a “moron.”
Feb. 7, 2019: Allen filed a $68 million lawsuit against Amazon Studios, which had backed out of plans to distribute his Elle Fanning-Timothée Chalamet film “A Rainy Day in New York” and canceled a four-picture deal. The suit was later withdrawn though terms of any settlement were not disclosed. Allen regained rights to “A Rainy Day,” which premiered at France’s Deauville Film Festival, though it never secured a U.S. theatrical distributor
Sept. 6, 2019: Allen defended his support of the #MeToo movement despite his daughter’s accusations of molestation. “I’ve worked with hundreds of actresses, not one of them has ever complained about me; not a single complaint. I’ve employed women in the top capacity for years and we’ve always paid them exactly the equal of men,” Allen told France 24 while promoting his film “A Rainy Day in New York.” “I’ve done everything the #MeToo movement would love to achieve.”
March 23, 2020: In a new memoir called “Apropos of Nothing,” Allen again denied molesting Dylan Farrow and said the accusations were part of Mia Farrow’s “Ahab-like quest” for revenge. “I never laid a finger on Dylan, never did anything to her that could be even misconstrued as abusing her; it was a total fabrication from start to finish,” he wrote in the book, which was released by Arcade Publishing after his previous publisher, Hachette, dropped it amid outcry from the company’s staff.
Sept. 18, 2020: Allen’s latest film, “Rifkin’s Festival,” premiered at Spain’s San Sebastian Film Festival. The comedy, which shot in Spain in summer 2019, featured a mostly European cast that included Elena Anaya (“Wonder Woman”), Louis Garrel (“An Officer and a Spy”), Gina Gershon (“The Insider”), Sergi López (“Pan’s Labyrinth”), Wallace Shawn (“Marriage Story”) and Christoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds”). The film got middling reviews and still has no U.S. distribution deal.
Feb. 5, 2021: HBO announced plans to air a four-part docuseries called “Allen v. Farrow” from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, the documentarians behind the Russell Simmons exposé “On the Record.” The series teased intimate home movie footage and new interviews with Mia Farrow, Dylan Farrow, Ronan Farrow, family friend Carly Simon, prosecutor Frank Maco and others.
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