What happened between Woody Allen and his adopted daughter one afternoon in August 1992 — and whether anything happened at all — has been in dispute for more than two decades.
According to a November 1992 Vanity Fair article that meticulously recounted the allegations against Allen, Dylan Farrow, then 7, told her adoptive mother, Mia Farrow, that her adoptive father, Allen, had taken her to an attic-like area of their Connecticut house, told her to remain still, and touched her “private part.” The child said he promised to take her to Paris and let her be in a movie.
On Saturday, Dylan Farrow gave an account strikingly consistent with the one in Vanity Fair, including the details about the attic-like space and the promise of a trip to Paris. She added a detail not included in the 1992 piece: watching toy trains as Allen abused her. She described what Allen allegedly did to her as sexual assault.
But Allen has never been charged, and authorities at the time of the allegations seemed torn on whether he should be. A doctor in the couple’s custody fight theorized that Mia Farrow may have coached her daughter. A prosecutor said he declined to charge Allen only because he wanted to spare Dylan Farrow from re-living the trauma — which she now says she has had to re-live anyway, for years.
“There were experts willing to attack my credibility. There were doctors willing to gaslight an abused child,” she said in her account published by the New York Times on Saturday.
Here is a timeline of the original allegations against Allen, and his contentious parting with Farrow:
February 1992: Mia Farrow discovers nude photos of her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, in Allen’s home. He soon confesses to an affair with Previn, who was roughly 20 at the time. (Her exact age is unknown because of the circumstances of her adoption.)
Aug. 5, 1992: Dylan Farrow tells her mother that Allen touched her inappropriately in the attic-like space. According to Vanity Fair, Allen and Mia Farrow had been preparing to sign an elaborate child-support-and-custody agreement the next day, Aug.6, which would have given Mia Farrow $6,000 a month for the support of Satchel, their biological child, and their son, 15-year-old Moses. Allen and Farrow had adopted both Moses and Dylan. (Satchel has since changed his name to Ronan, and there have been reports that Frank Sinatra, not Allen, is his biological father.)
Aug. 13, 1992: Allen’s lawyers, notified of the allegation, pre-emptively file a custody suit against Farrow, accusing her of being an unfit mother.
August 1992-1993: Connecticut police and prosecutors investigate the abuse claims against Allen. The November Vanity Fair article says Dylan Farrow was prepared at the time to take the stand and testify against Allen.
May 1993: During the custody fight, a doctor who led the investigation and interviewed Dylan Farrow nine times says he has doubts about her allegations against Allen. Dr. John M. Leventhal says she has changed key details, like whether Allen touched her vagina, and said her accounts had a “rehearsed quality.”
“We had two hypotheses: one, that these were statements that were made by an emotionally disturbed child and then became fixed in her mind,” says Leventhal, according to the New York Times.“And the other hypothesis was that she was coached or influenced by her mother. We did not come to a firm conclusion. We think that it was probably a combination.”
Levanthal did not immediately respond to attempts by TheWrap to reach him Monday.
June 1993: In a scathing judgment against Allen, a Manhattan judge rules that Farrow should receive custody of the children, and says he is not convinced “that the evidence proves conclusively that there was no sexual abuse.” The judge also says the psychotherapists who interviewed Dylan Farrow had their judgement “colored by their loyalty to Mr. Allen,” according to the Times.
The judge also blasts Allen for his relationship with Previn, saying it harmed both her and her adoptive siblings. “Having isolated Soon-Yi from her family, he left her with no visible support system,” Justice Elliott Wilk writes.
September 1993: Connecticut state’s attorney Frank S. Maco announces that while he found “probable cause” to prosecute Allen, he is dropping the case because Dylan was too “fragile” to deal with a trial. Mia Farrow agrees with the decision, he says.
Dylan Farrow provided a similar account in her statement Saturday: “After a custody hearing denied my father visitation rights, my mother declined to pursue criminal charges, despite findings of probable cause by the State of Connecticut – due to, in the words of the prosecutor, the fragility of the ‘child victim,'” she wrote.
Maco recently told People that Dylan was “traumatized to the extent that I did not have a confident witness to testify in any court setting, whether that’s a closed courtroom or an open courtroom.”
Allen later condemns Maco as “cowardly, dishonest and irresponsible” for saying he had “probable cause” without releasing his evidence.
Dec. 24, 1997: Allen and Previn marry.
Feb. 1, 2014: Dylan Farrow speaks out about the alleged abuse on the blog of New York Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristof.