Woody Allen, Dylan Farrow, and the Court of Public Opinion

You don't know. I don't know. That brunette sitting three rows from the back two seats in doesn't know either. We will never know. At least we will never know with one hundred percent certainty pinky swear on my hallowed mother's grave bless her soul. There are no eye witnesses; there isn't a video tape; and there is no forensic evidence.

I've read both sides.

The New York Times: The Opinion Pages: On the Ground: Nicholas Kristof – Feb 1/2014
An Open Letter From Dylan Farrow by Dylan Farrow

The Daily Beast – Jan 27/2014
The Woody Allen Allegations: Not So Fast by Robert B. Weide

Vanity Fair – Feb 7/2014
10 Undeniable Facts About the Woody Allen Sexual-Abuse Allegation By Maureen Orth

Custody Suit – June 7, 1993
Woody Allen vs. Mia Farrow: J. Elliott Wilk, presiding judge

The New York Times – May 4/1993
Doctor Cites Inconsistencies In Dylan Farrow's Statements by Richard Perez-Pena

Slate – Feb 4/2014
Don’t Listen to Woody Allen’s Biggest Defender By Jessica Winter

Vanity Fair – Nov 2013
Moma Mia! by Maureen Orth

Vanity Fair – Nov 1992
Mia's Story by Maureen Orth

NYTimes – Feb 7/2014
Woody Allen Speaks Out by Woody Allen

Cognoscenti – Feb 5/2014
Understanding The Woody Allen Abuse Scandal — To The Extent That We Can by Eileen McNamara

NY Times – Feb 24/1994
Panel Criticizes Prosecutor In Inquiry on Woody Allen by Richard Perez-Pena

Open Salon – Feb 7/2014
Compartmentalizing Woody Allen … or Not by libbyliberalnyc

Open Salon – Feb 4/2014
Woody Allen must be presumed innocent by Robert C

To fully understand what I am about to say, you need to read each and every one of the above articles.

You still don't know. I still don't know. And that brunette still doesn't know. But the question persists. The public is not going to let this one drop. The crime is so horrendous, we collectively demand answers but are there any other answers to have today that the experts and the authorities didn't find in the initial investigation in 1992?

MLive.com – Feb 7/2014
Something to think about as you're defending Woody Allen by Susan J. Demas
I was raped almost 19 years ago. I was an 18-year-old college sophomore. … I didn't go to the police. I didn't tell my friends. … I said nothing because I believed people wouldn't understand. And I knew many wouldn't believe me.

But there are some times when I feel like a terrified teenager all over again. That happens when I read about four Steubenville football players allegedly gang raping a 16-year-old girl. That happens when the University of Michigan takes four years to expel Brandon Gibbons for sexual misconduct. And that happens when I recently read Dylan Farrow's account of how her dad, Woody Allen, allegedly sexually assaulted her when she was 7.

Ms. Demas was raped. I'm sorry. It is a terrible thing to happen to anybody. But this article and the premise laid out by Ms. Demas exemplifies the case put forward over and over again. Woody Allen is guilty because the crime he is accused of is so loathsome.

Now I am sure anybody reading this is going to protest saying that is not what's being said. Unfortunately, I am having a hard time ignoring the facts. Wait. What? The facts? I just said above that nobody will ever truly know the facts so why am I seemingly contradicting myself here? It's simple. In 1992, the police investigated and exonerated Allen. Yes, he was found not guilty.

Not guilty? But what about Dylan Farrow's article? Why would this woman after all this time bring this up? If there's smoke, there has to be fire. After all, is it normal that a 55 year old man becomes involved with a 19 year old girl?

Around 1980, Allen began a relationship with actress Mia Farrow, who had leading roles in most of his movies from 1982 to 1992. Farrow and Allen never married and kept separate homes. Allen and Farrow separated in 1992, after Farrow discovered nude photographs that Allen had taken of Soon-Yi, Farrow's adopted daughter who was around 20 years old then.
Wikipedia

FYI: Mia Farrow was 19-years-old when she started a relationship with Frank Sinatra age 50, 31 years her senior. She married Frank in 1966 at the age of 20. Her marriage to Frank lasted two years. Woody Allen has now been married to Soon-Yi for 16 years.

But I have to go back to the facts. In 1992, the police investigated and exonerated Allen. He was found not guilty. Do you know why? I'm guessing you don't and I didn't know either until I looked it up. As people like to misquote Sergeant Friday from Dragnet, "Just the facts, ma'am." (Dragnet Series)

The New York Times – May 4/1993
Doctor Cites Inconsistencies In Dylan Farrow's Statements by Richard Perez-Pena
The doctor who headed the Connecticut investigation into whether Woody Allen molested his 7-year-old daughter, Dylan, theorized that the child either invented the story under the stress of living in a volatile and unhealthy home or that it was planted in her mind by her mother, Mia Farrow, a sworn statement released yesterday says.

Ah, but several of the above articles suggest all this was tainted by Allen's legal team. True? False? Outcome: not guilty. We can all debate this until we're blue in the face but the outcome was not guilty. Period. Finito. That's all she wrote, folks. Move along people; there's nothing else to see here.

Did Mia taint things? She and Allen were going through an acrimonious split. Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned. Did she coach Dylan? Does Dylan truly believe it happened when it didn't?

As I wade through article after article explaining one side then the other side with sidebars about incidents that happened decades ago with detailed analysis of glances and gestures along with interpretations of words spoken and actions taken, it becomes more and more evident that arriving at a clear, objective, unbiased, court-accepted, all-encompassing view of events is about as feasible as finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

Cognoscenti – Feb 5/2014
Understanding The Woody Allen Abuse Scandal — To The Extent That We Can by Eileen McNamara
If there is an unambiguously bad guy in this case it is not Woody Allen or Mia Farrow. It is Frank S. Maco, the state’s attorney for Litchfield County who claimed there was probable cause to indict Allen but declined to prosecute to “spare” Dylan the trauma of a trial.

He did Dylan no favors. A courtroom cannot resolve the question of childhood sexual abuse — we have counselors and clergymen to help us with that — but it can adjudicate the question of guilt. It is imperfect but the best system yet devised to find some sense of justice for the accused and the accuser. Without it, both are left with a deepening commitment to their own deeply felt narrative of what did or did not happen. Without it, the wider community is reduced to being marginally informed partisans in a political and media spectacle.

[A NY Times article from 1994 reports Maco received a public reprimand from the state's Grievance Panel for making the statement mentioned above.]

Final Word
Child abuse is horrible. Child molestation is loathsome. And rape is terrible. Bad things happen in our world and the collective we has a long way to go before we can say our society and its people are safe and secure.

But no matter how repugnant a crime is to us, our system of law is based on the idea of innocent until proven guilty. In 1992, the police investigated and found Allen not guilty. If Dylan Farrow wants to re-open the investigation and go through the whole process again, it's her right. In the meantime, the only thing I have to go on is the facts. Allen was found not guilty. Is Dylan Farrow telling the truth or is she repeating a coached story? Allen was found not guilty. Did Susan J. Demas suffer a traumatic event in her life when she was raped at the age of 19? Allen was found not guilty. Is the whole story of Allen's relationship with Soon-Yi Previn very very unusual when we all consider the standard American fairy tale of love and marriage? Allen was found not guilty.

Was there a miscarriage of justice? I don't know. You don't know. The brunette doesn't know. Nobody will ever know with one hundred percent certainty. In the meantime, Allen was found not guilty. At some point, even the court of public opinion is going to have to admit that guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The horror of a crime doesn't make the accused guilty. An accusation must be proven and here the accusation was not proven. It is time to turn off the light and go home. The authorities determined that Allen was not guilty and no matter what we think, no matter what anybody says today including Dylan Farrow, we must accept what the authorities have said. Allen was found not guilty and Allen continues to be not guilty. Those are the facts. Not opinion. Not childhood memories. Not stories from Mom. Not innuendo from participants in the original case two decades after the fact. Just the facts, ma'am.

Postscript: The Zen of Acceptance
Am I being unfeeling towards Dylan Farrow and the plight of molested children? Am I being unfeeling towards Susan J. Dumas and her rape at the age of 19? Let's say Woody Allen was found guilty in 1993, locked up for the rest of his life and died a broken and shamed man in prison. Would Dylan feel better? Would Mia Farrow? Would the Vanity Fair journalist Maureen Orth? Yup, we certainly showed that bad man!

I accidentally get my hand caught in a woodchipper and have my entire left arm ripped off. I will be an amputee for the rest of my life. I sue the company which made the wood chipper. I win, get a settlement of millions and bankrupt the company while putting hundreds of employees out of work. Guess what? I'm still an amputee. Am I better off? Do I feel better? I am still missing my arm.

"Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die."
-Unknown (misattributed to Buddha)

The courts found Woody Allen not guilty. Yes, the legal system may not be perfect, but it's all we've got. Allen is not guilty.

We all must accept and move on. Dylan Farrow must accept and move on. Mia Farrow must accept and move on. It is only through acceptance that all of us can go on to the next step in our lives. If we don't, we get stuck and we never move on. The Serenity Prayer is so true.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

I remember watching a video of the 2011 Japanese tsunami in which a couple pointed into a valley where their home used to be. Everything, absolutely everything in their life was gone, swept out to sea. Was it fair? Was it just? The man turned to the camera and said, "We are lucky to be alive."

Dylan is alive. I hope she accepts, moves on, and has a wonderful life. Happiness truly is the best revenge.

References

The Daily Beast – Jan 27/2014
The Woody Allen Allegations: Not So Fast by Robert B. Weide
Top ten misconceptions about Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn: (this entire article is a must read)

#1: Soon-Yi was Woody’s daughter. False.

#2: Soon-Yi was Woody’s step-daughter. False.

#3: Soon-Yi was Woody and Mia’s adopted daughter. False. Soon-Yi was the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and André Previn. Her full name was Soon-Yi Farrow Previn.

#4: Woody and Mia were married. False.

#5: Woody and Mia lived together. False. Woody lived in his apartment on Fifth Ave. Mia and her kids lived on Central Park West. In fact, Woody never once stayed over night at Mia’s apartment in 12 years.

#6: Woody and Mia had a common-law marriage. False. New York State does not recognize common law marriage. Even in states that do, a couple has to cohabitate for a certain number of years.

#7: Soon-Yi viewed Woody as a father figure. False. Soon-Yi saw Woody as her mother’s boyfriend. Her father figure was her adoptive father, André Previn.

#8: Soon-Yi was underage when she and Woody started having relations. False. She was either 19 or 21. (Her year of birth in Korea was undocumented, but believed to be either 1970 or ’72.)

#9: Soon-Yi was borderline retarded. Ha! She’s smart as a whip, has a degree from Columbia University and speaks more languages than you.

#10: Woody was grooming Soon-Yi from an early age to be his child bride. Oh, come on! According to court documents and Mia’s own memoir, until 1990 (when Soon-Yi was 18 or 20), Woody “had little to do with any of the Previn children, (but) had the least to do with Soon-Yi” so Mia encouraged him to spend more time with her. Woody started taking her to basketball games, and the rest is tabloid history. So he hardly “had his eye on her” from the time she was a child.

Robert B. Weide goes on to describe how Allen and Soon-Yi have adopted two girls and live a very ordinary average life: two parents and two daughters. This is in complete contrast to anything previously put forward by Mia Farrow and her supporters.

A fellow blogger, a woman, like Susan J. Demas above, tells a heart-felt story about women everywhere who have suffered sexual assault. She mentions Allen and the nude photos of Soon-Yi at age 19. (Oddly enough, she doesn't remember that Mia was 19 when she started up with 50-year-old Frank Sinatra.) She ends by calling Allen a "dirty old fuck". She's entitled to her opinion but Allen is still not guilty.

 
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