Will Hollywood Ignore Woody Allen’s Daughter’s Sexual Abuse Allegation Again?

In her first public declaration, Allen’s daughter Dylan Farrow has accused him in the New York Times of sexually assaulting her when she was 7. Update: Cate Blanchett, one of the actors she called out for being complicit, and a rep for Allen have now commented.

Woody Allen and Cate Blanchett during the premiere of Blue Jasmine in Paris. Charles Platiau / Reuters

In the most personal terms imaginable, Dylan Farrow has called out the Oscars, critics, actors, TV networks, and all of Hollywood for continuing to praise and work with her father, Woody Allen. And so far, none of those she has accused have responded.

Using the New York TimesNicholas Kristof’s column as a bully pulpit, Farrow has detailed the sexual abuse allegations the world has known about — and has largely chosen to ignore — for more than 20 years.

“When I was seven years old,” she wrote, “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.”

Last month, Dylan Farrow’s mother, Mia, and her brother, Ronan, criticized the Golden Globes for celebrating Allen. And Dylan Farrow’s column is as devastating as a piece of writing can be. Yet, as with Mia and Ronan’s comments, it’s also likely to be dismissed by the people the Farrows are damning: the Hollywood creative community.

For the rest of the column, Farrow describes how painful and damaging it’s been to see Allen, whom she calls both “my father” and “my abuser,” continue to thrive as a director. Most pointedly, she rhetorically asks some of Allen’s recent actors — Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Louis CK, Emma Stone, and Scarlett Johansson — to imagine how they would feel if their child had been sexually abused. She specifically writes to Diane Keaton, Allen’s former girlfriend and muse, who recently feted him (in absentia) at the Golden Globes, “You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?”

I emailed contacts for Keaton, Baldwin, CK, Johansson, Baldwin, and Stone to ask whether they had any comment on what Farrow wrote. Baldwin’s PR rep has been the only one to respond so far, saying, “No comment as of now.” I also emailed a representative for Allen.

In the column, Farrow only glancingly mentions her sister, Soon-Yi Previn, one of Mia Farrow’s other adopted children, with whom Allen began having a relationship when she still lived with Mia Farrow. Previn was either 19 or 21 — she was adopted from Korea, and it wasn’t clear at the time — when she and Allen began the relationship. Farrow discovered naked pictures Allen had taken of Previn, which caused their split. Allen and Previn have been married since 1997.

The 1992 Vanity Fair story (by Maureen Orth) that exposed all of these revelations begins with the sentence “There was an unwritten rule in Mia Farrow’s house that Woody Allen was never supposed to be left alone with their seven-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan.”

The article went on to tell the exact same story as Farrow now has in 2014:

“As soon as Mia asked Dylan about it, Dylan began to tell a harrowing story, in dribs and drabs but in excruciating detail. According to her account, she and Daddy went to the attic (not really an attic, just a small crawl space off the closet of Mia’s bedroom where the children play), and Daddy told her that if she stayed very still he would put her in his movie and take her to Paris. He touched her ‘private part.’ Dylan said she told him, ‘It hurts. I’m just a little kid.’ The she told Mia, ‘Kids have to do what grown-ups say.’”

At the Oscars on March 2, Cate Blanchett is favored to win Best Actress for Blue Jasmine, in which she played Jasmine, a mentally ill wreck who ruined her life by turning her husband in for his (financial) crimes. The movie ends with Jasmine talking to herself on a park bench, and for those of us who saw real-life parallels in the story, and who also thought throughout the movie that Blanchett physically resembles Mia Farrow, it does feel like a revenge fantasy on Allen’s part.

Dylan Farrow wrote that people have been able to work with Allen by accepting “the ambiguity” of the public and ugly split between him and Mia Farrow (which included the sexual abuse allegations), and by saying “who can say what happened.” While Allen’s current wave of success is probably unstoppable, his daughter has certainly condemned those who separate the artist from his art. And she’s made sure that those who do business with Allen in the future will have her words ringing in their ears, even if they choose to disbelieve or ignore them.

Update - Feb. 2, 3:35 p.m. ET: Blanchett and representatives for Allen have now responded to Farrow’s New York Times piece. And Baldwin discussed the matter on Twitter.


Allen’s lawyer Elkan Abramowitz sent Mother Jones the following statement on the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 2: “It is tragic that after 20 years a story engineered by a vengeful lover resurfaces after it was fully vetted and rejected by independent authorities. The one to blame for Dylan’s distress is neither Dylan nor Woody Allen.” And a rep for Allen also said, “Mr. Allen has read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful. He will be responding very soon.”

Hollywood Elsewhere reporter Jeffrey Wells asked Blanchett about the article at a party following the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Saturday evening where the Blue Jasmine actress was given the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award. “I mean, it’s obviously been a long and painful situation for the family,” she said. “And I hope they find some resolution and peace.”

On Sunday, Baldwin engaged with Twitter followers. To one, who asked whether he thought he owes Dylan Farrow an apology, he responded, “What the f&@% is wrong w u that u think we all need to b commenting on this family’s personal struggle?” He tweeted about due process, and also wrote, “You are mistaken if you think there is a place for me, or any outsider, in this family’s issue.” Baldwin has since deleted the tweets.

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