The Thinker

Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow: beyond a reasonable doubt

Some years back I got in trouble (from some readers) because I called Michael Jackson a child molester. I was convinced that he was guilty of abusing two boys based on the news stories and public testimony. Obviously the jury was not, as Jackson got to go back to Neverland. There he somewhat mysteriously died from a narcotic that his physician incorrectly prescribed some years later.

With Jackson, the evidence seemed clear to me but apparently did not reach the criteria of being beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury. What to think then about these latest resurfaced charges that film director Woody Allen repeated molested his stepdaughter Dylan Farrow when she was a young child? Dylan’s memory is clear enough, even though she was young when the incidents occurred. Early memories can be incorrect, but by age seven a significant emotional event, particularly if it is repeated, will usually cement itself in memory. Recently, Allen issued yet another denial of the allegations.

If it were simply Dylan vs. Allen, maybe there would be some reasonable doubt here. But then there is the small matter of Allen’s other stepdaughter Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted Korean daughter of actress Mia Farrow, Allen’s wife at the time. Previn entered Allen’s life when she was about ten. When Previn was twenty, and above the age of consent, Farrow discovered naked pictures of her. It quickly became clear that Soon-Yi and Allen had more than a stepparent relationship. Today, Allen and Soon-Yi are something of an old married couple, married fifteen years.

No one can say if Soon-Yi was a minor when her relation with Allen turned intimate. The relationship, even if it started at or after the age of consent, would give most parents the willies. Unsurprisingly, this would be because there is an implicit trust relationship between a man and his stepdaughter. Allen says they fell in love and “that is that”. But both parents and stepparents know, or should know to respect boundaries. Any minor needs to trust older adults living in the household so they can develop into an adult free of power issues. A man of character would of course say, “Of course not,” if their legal age stepdaughter became flirtatious. Allen said, “That is that.”

Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi certainly smells. Given that no one can prove molestation of a minor or that it began before she was of legal age, there is reasonable doubt. The alleged molestation of Dylan Farrow, however, goes beyond a reasonable doubt in my mind. This is because there were two potential episodes of sexual abuse of a minor by the same man.

It is possible that Dylan is a vindictive type and is supporting her mother in what ended up as a messy divorce between Allen and Farrow. However, there is no evidence that I have found that Farrow coached anyone. There is plenty of evidence that Allen’s behaviors were wrong. This Vanity Fair article outlines some of the damning facts in the case, now more than twenty years old. Perhaps the most damning was the state attorney’s contention that there was sufficient evidence to charge Allen for molesting Dylan, but he declined to do so due to the Dylan’s fragility at the time. There are also inconsistencies in Allen’s statements to police and the judge in the case calling Allen’s behavior with Dylan grossly inappropriate. No surprise there, of course.

So in the sad case of Dylan Farrow vs. Woody Allen, it’s not leaping to a conclusion at all to say that Allen is probably guilty of repeatedly molesting her. The case against Allen is really beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s amazing that Allen managed to dodge these charges, but it’s clear that it was not due to a lack of convincing evidence and certainly aided by his fat bank account and ability to hire top-notch lawyers.

It’s quite possible that Allen learned from his botched relationship with Dylan and adapted different strategies to win Soon-Yi’s trust, perhaps wooing her but not actually inappropriately touching her until she was at legal age. Regardless, the evidence is clear that Allen transgressed boundary issues with both of these women.

For myself, I don’t seek out Woody Allen movies and I don’t plan to watch anymore of his movies. I am more than a bit miffed that in Dylan’s case he seems to have escaped justice. He should have been convicted and sent to prison long ago. If he had served his sentence and is now on parole, he should not be allowed to be around any minors unsupervised again.

I believe that Allen is a child predator.


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