Saturday 26/05/2018 - 07:20 am


The other side of the Woody Allen story

By Duarte Garrido, Arts and Entertainment Reporter


2018.01.30 05:22

There are two sides to every story, someone once said - and one side is usually wrong.

In the case of Woody Allen versus the Farrows, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction, and the story is as tangled as the lives of those who tell it.

Navigate through the murky waters of the internet, and youll find reports dating back as far as 1992. Court documents, expert findings, newspaper clippings, he said/she said op-eds, millions - nay, billions - of social media posts - and not one clear answer.

Just two weeks ago, Dylan Farrow - the adoptive daughter of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen - gave her first ever TV interview to CBS, accusing Allen of sexually abusing her in an attic when she was seven.

Dylans claims have been supported by her mother Mia and younger brother Ronan.

Of the 14 children Mia Farrow has either adopted or given birth to, Ronan is the only one whose parentage is attributed to Allen.

He is also an award-winning journalist whose investigative work helped shine a light on Harvey Weinstein. Lately, he has written several op-eds denouncing Hollywood for failing to condemn Allen.

Propelled by the momentum of the #MeToo campaign and the Times Up movement, Dylan and Ronans allegations have found new allies.

Several actors who have previously worked with Allen have now disavowed the director, with some going as far as donating money made from those movies to victims of sexual abuse.

As reports of one side of the story flood the media, Allen may appear increasingly isolated - but he isnt.

In a quieter corner of Hollywood, some voices still stand by Allens counter-claim that he never molested his adoptive daughter, who he claims is a victim of her mothers manipulation.

Leading the voices of those who believe Allen is Robert B Weide.

You may know him as the director of the Simon Pegg comedy How To Lose Friends And Alienate People, and one of the men behind Larry Davids Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Once dubbed Allens biggest defender, Weide is actually his biographer. Seven years ago, he produced a documentary on Allen as part of the American Masters series on PBS.

Since then, he has written four essays on the matter, where he offers "another side to Dylans story" - one which involves a web of lies allegedly crafted by Mia Farrow, after Allen left her for one of her adoptive daughters, Soon-Yi Previn.

At 58 and with an impressive Hollywood career, Weide told me he has long been "tuned out of contemporary pop culture".

"So when I see tabloid gossip, I often dont even know who these people are at the centre of it. Thats where Allen was the exception."

When preparing his documentary, Weide "researched the case in great detail", so "it was very odd to watch it take on a whole new life on social media" decades after being "found baseless".

He told me it was the first time he experienced any first-hand connection to a scandal and that, because he knows the case so well, its been difficult for him to let it go.

"Ive written four lengthy essays on this matter. Its complex and theres no easy way to distil it," he said.

"In a he said/she said scenario, the way you get to the bottom of it is by due process, which in this case involved a police-ordered investigation by a highly respected independent team of child abuse experts."

Weide cites two investigations launched in the case: one by the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale/New Haven Hospital and another by New York State Department of Social Services.

"After a seven-month investigation, they concluded unambiguously that molestation had not taken place," he said.

"The very same conclusion was reached by a second investigation conducted over 14 months."

In an assessment available online, investigators from the Yale-New Haven Hospital wrote "there were important inconsistencies in Dylans statements", and they appeared "rehearsed" and "controlled".

The report concludes that Dylan "was not sexually abused", and was "likely" a victim of "a disturbed family" and "coached or influenced by her mother".

As a result, no charges were ever brought against Allen.

Connecticut district attorney Frank Maco was the one prosecutor who said he believed there was enough to take Allen to court, but he ultimately "chose not to".

The only time the matter was discussed in court was during a long and arduous custody battle between Allen and Farrow.

"Ask any lawyer - if a prosecutor thinks he can win a case, hell prosecute it," Weide said.

"But the Yale findings killed the states case. So the next step is to discredit the investigation.

"Dylan says she was never interviewed by the investigator, when the summary actually lists the nine separate times she was interviewed. So theres a lot of historical revisionism and obfuscation at work."

Sky News contacted Dylan, hoping for an interview to clarify some of the claims. There has been no answer.

Part of the "historical revisionism" Weide refers to are common assumptions that Allen was married to Farrow and that Soon-Yi was their adoptive daughter and a minor when they began their relationship.

"None of it true," Weide says.

Soon-Yi Previn is the adoptive daughter of Farrow and her second husband, composer Andre Previn. Allen did not enter their lives until some years later.

Soon-Yi was either 19 or 21 years old when she and Allen had the affair which ended his relationship with Farrow - a discrepancy which cannot be clarified due to a missing birth certificate.

Either way, she was not under age when the relationship began.

When Soon-Yi was adopted, the Previns were already a family of seven. Mia Farrow would go on to adopt seven more children, one of whom was Dylan.

Among them was Moses, another Farrow child who went on to choose Woody Allen over his adoptive mother, after accusing her of beating him and coercing the whole family against the director.

"With the attention Dylans accusations are getting virtually everywhere, almost nobody in the mainstream media is picking up on Moses story," Weide told me.

"Clearly it muddies the current narrative - the fact that Moses is a male recounting horrific stories of abuse from a woman that some people view as a great humanitarian makes a lot of people skittish.

"And frankly, I think the fact that Moses is not white doesnt help his case either. Ironically, on one hand, the current message of the #MeToo movement is that we are supposed to believe every single accuser, but often the same people who stand by this message also attempt to discredit Moses."

Moses Farrow witnessed his younger sister accuse her adoptive father of sexual assault.

On Weides blog, there is a quoted passage in which Moses Farrow describes an allegedly coordinated effort by Mia to convince her children Allen had sexually assaulted Dylan.

Weide said: "Moses refers to himself as having escaped the cult. He feels Dylan was not so lucky."

Dylan denies this.

Both Weide and Moses believe the current efforts by the Farrows to put Allen out of business "have nothing to do with justice or healing", but as "vengeance for Woody falling in love with Soon-Yi".

"Ive said it before, and Ill say it again - one can believe in Woody Allens innocence without presuming Dylan Farrow to be a liar," Weide said.

"Its complicated, but I believe Moses holds the key.

"But again, no one seems up to the task of looking into these issues - and they all play a part here. Ive said this before... this stuff gets real dark, real fast.

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