Last Saturday, Dylan Farrow wrote an op-ed for the New York Times' blog detailing the (alleged) sexual abuse she experienced by Woody Allen. Farrow described what had happened to her in harrowing detail and also implored both those that worked with Allen as well as the general public not to ignore children whose lives have been affected by sexual abuse in the way that hers has been.
Woody Allen has responded. In an op-ed published on Friday night Allen defended himself, stating that the events that Dylan Farrow remembers never happened. He also suggests that her open letter was guided, if not completely written, by Mia Farrow.
In his defense Allen writes:
Twenty-one years ago, when I first heard Mia Farrow had accused me of child molestation, I found the idea so ludicrous I didn't give it a second thought. We were involved in a terribly acrimonious breakup, with great enmity between us and a custody battle slowly gathering energy. The self-serving transparency of her malevolence seemed so obvious I didn't even hire a lawyer to defend myself. It was my show business attorney who told me she was bringing the accusation to the police and I would need a criminal lawyer.
He goes on:
I naïvely thought the accusation would be dismissed out of hand because of course, I hadn't molested Dylan and any rational person would see the ploy for what it was. Common sense would prevail. After all, I was a 56-year-old man who had never before (or after) been accused of child molestation. I had been going out with Mia for 12 years and never in that time did she ever suggest to me anything resembling misconduct. Now, suddenly, when I had driven up to her house in Connecticut one afternoon to visit the kids for a few hours, when I would be on my raging adversary's home turf, with half a dozen people present, when I was in the blissful early stages of a happy new relationship with the woman I'd go on to marry — that I would pick this moment in time to embark on a career as a child molester should seem to the most skeptical mind highly unlikely. The sheer illogic of such a crazy scenario seemed to me dispositive.
Allen's defense is passionate, but his point that he didn't commit any wrongdoing because it would have been illogical isn't particularly convincing. The abuse of children isn't particularly logical in itself. Nor is there ever a perfect time to embark on what Allen refers to as "a career as a child molester." Although making such an argument does not make Allen automatically guilty, his discussion of logic is a specious appeal to the reader's intellect, suggesting that child abuse doesn't happen simply because it wouldn't make sense for it to do so.
Allen also points out that Dylan Farrow's account of the abuse she experienced in the attic was impossible because he suffers from claustrophobia:
Even the venue where the fabricated molestation was supposed to have taken place was poorly chosen but interesting. Mia chose the attic of her country house, a place she should have realized I'd never go to because it is a tiny, cramped, enclosed spot where one can hardly stand up and I'm a major claustrophobe. The one or two times she asked me to come in there to look at something, I did, but quickly had to run out. Undoubtedly the attic idea came to her from the Dory Previn song, "With My Daddy in the Attic." 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."
Allen's argument here immediately turns into an attack on Mia Farrow; he insists that whoever dreamed up this scenario had used a song title to come up with the idea of an attic. This reasoning reads like something out of an Encyclopedia Brown mystery—convoluted and lacking in the same logic that Allen asks his reader to buy into earlier in the defense. The mention of Dory Previn's song also raises the question of whether Allen truly believes the allegations he's making or if it's just a clever way to refer to Mia Farrow as a home-wrecker without having to come right out and say it.
Allen also states that:
The police began their investigation; a possible indictment hung in the balance. I very willingly took a lie-detector test and of course passed because I had nothing to hide. I asked Mia to take one and she wouldn't.
What Allen doesn't point out is the following: that the lie detector test wasn't carried out by the police, that it wasn't admissible in court, and that Mia Farrow was never asked to take a polygraph test by the authorities conducting the investigation. Nor is it ever made apparent that lie detector tests aren't considered to be fool-proof or even reliable. Again, none of this makes Allen automatically guilty, but his distortion of the facts as well as his enthusiasm to paint Mia Farrow as the mastermind behind Farrow's original accusations as well as an open letter published 20 years later is certainly doing him no favors in the court of public opinion, the only court this case will be prosecuted in.
Allen ends his op-ed with this statement:
No one wants to discourage abuse victims from speaking out, but one must bear in mind that sometimes there are people who are falsely accused and that is also a terribly destructive thing. (This piece will be my final word on this entire matter and no one will be responding on my behalf to any further comments on it by any party. Enough people have been hurt.)
Dylan Farrow has already responded:
Once again, Woody Allen is attacking me and my family in an effort to discredit and silence me - but nothing he says or writes can change the truth. For 20 years, I have never wavered in describing what he did to me. I will carry the memories of surviving these experiences for the rest of my life.
After a point-by-point take-down of Allen's defense, Farrow closes with this:
From the bottom of my heart, I will be forever grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from survivors and countless others. If speaking out about my experience can help others stand up to their tormentors, it will be worth the pain and suffering my father continues to inflict on me. Woody Allen has an arsenal of lawyers and publicists but the one thing he does not have on his side is the truth. I hope this is the end of his vicious attacks and of the media campaign by his lawyers and publicists, as he's promised. I won't let the truth be buried and I won't be silenced.
Image via Getty