Woody Allen: One Way He Could Still Be Prosecuted

Woody Allen: One Way He Could Still Be Prosecuted

If Dylan Farrow says abuse also occurred in New York, he could be prosecuted there

One of the widespread beliefs about the Woody Allen sexual abuse allegations is that it's much too late to prosecute him, and that his adopted daughter is detailing her allegations publicly because she has no other recourse.

But it may still be possible to charge him — depending on the specifics of Dylan Farrow's account.

Also read: Woody Allen Can't Be Charged Now, Prosecutor Says

If Allen's alleged sexual assault of Dylan Farrow was limited to one assault in Connecticut, then it is too late to prosecute him. But if she alleges that he committed other assaults a few miles away, across state lines, he is still subject to prosecution.

The passage of time would make the case difficult to prove, to be sure. But if Dylan Farrow says her adopted father molested her in New York, she could still seek charges there: The state has no statue of limitations on certain felony sex crimes.

Allen has denied the allegations, which first surfaced in 1992. (He is pictured holding hands with Dylan Farrow early that year.)

Also read: Woody Allen Fires Back on Dylan Farrow Molestation Allegations: ‘Untrue,’ ‘Disgraceful’

Allen and Mia Farrow famously had separate homes on opposite sides of New York City's Central Park around the time Dylan Farrow alleges he molested her. The family occasionally spent weekends in Bridgewater, Conn.

Allen and Farrow described their life together in a 1991 New York Times piece, months before their acrimonious split, indicating that Allen often arrived at Mia Farrow‘s home before the children awoke, and stayed after they fell asleep.

The alleged sexual assault Farrow described in a New York Times blog post Saturday seems to have occurred, according to her recollection, in an attic-like space in the second floor of the Connecticut home. An extensive 1992 Vanity Fair story about the allegations says the home was in Bridgewater.

Also read: Woody Allen's Adopted Daughter Details Sexual Abuse Allegations in New York Times Essay

Dylan Farrow notes that a Connecticut prosecutor investigated, but opted not to bring charges against Allen in order to spare her further suffering.

That now-retired prosecutor, Frank Maco, told the Associated Press over the weekend that he believes the statute of limitations on the case expired more than 15 years ago. Cornelius Kelly, a Connecticut Assistant State's Attorney, told TheWrap on Monday that the state's statute of limitation in the case would have been seven years.

But that still wouldn't preclude Allen from being prosecuted in New York — if he committed any offenses there similar to the one Dylan Farrow described in Connecticut.

Here's what New York Criminal Penal Law §30.10 says about the statute of limitations in certain sex assault cases:

“A prosecution for a Class A felony, or rape in the first degree as defined in section 130.35 of the penal law, or a crime defined or formerly defined in section 130.50 of the penal law, or aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree as defined in section 130.70 of the penal law, or course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree as defined in section 130.75 of the penal law may be commenced at any time.”

When you cut through the legalese, one thing stands out: “Any time” means “any time.”

Also read: Sony Pictures Classics: Woody Allen ‘Deserves Our Presumption of Innocence’

Among the challenges of prosecuting old sex crimes, or any crimes, are fading memories and the difficulty of finding old, contemporaneous evidence to support the accuser's account.

But Dylan Farrow's memory is clearly sharp. And if she went to Manhattan prosecutors now, they would look for evidence that she made claims two decades ago similar to the ones she is making now.

The prosecutors would find plenty: As she noted in her blog post, she spent years repeating her allegations against Allen “to doctor after doctor.” And many details in Dylan Farrow's blog post are also included in the 1992 Vanity Fair story.

It is rare, but not unheard of, for people to go to prison for sex crimes that occurred decades earlier. The Catholic Church molestation scandal, for example, uncovered a trove of cases in which a priest escaped punishment for years, only to be caught when a child victim came forward as an adult.

Of course, all of this is predicated on a huge question: Does Dylan Farrow contend that Allen ever molested her in New York? Her blog post doesn't go into detail about where she says she was molested — and it's entirely understandable that a survivor of sexual assault wouldn't want to share every detail with the public. TheWrap reached out to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who posted her blog, for clarification. We have not yet heard back.

Dylan Farrow has contended that some highly questionable behaviors by Allen — making her suck his thumb; making her get under covers with him when he was in his underwear; putting his head in her lap when she was naked — happened “routinely.” That would seem to suggest they occurred in both New York and Connecticut. But traumatic as that behavior may have been, it does not appear that they would rise to the level of a felony in New York.

As the penal law quoted above states, the “any time” provision is specifically for Class A felonies. Lesser crimes — if they qualify as crimes — do have statutes of limitations. Creepy as they sound, it is debatable whether Allen's alleged “routine” behaviors would even rise to the level of misdemeanors. That means he could not be prosecuted for making his adopted daughter suck his thumb, for example. But such behavior could be used to show a pattern of inappropriate behavior.

The attic-like room is different. Dylan Farrow describes what happened there as a full-blown sexual assault.

Such an attack would certainly be a felony, and if Allen committed such an assault in New York, there is no legal barrier to Dylan Farrow trying to put him behind bars.

  • Larry Weisberg

    Maybe Connecticut needs to re-evaluate their laws!

    • tim.molloy

      They have – the problem is that they have to go by the laws at the time of the offense.

  • donkaye

    Maybe Tim Molloy needs to stop with the speculation pieces.

  • Rog

    The photo which accompanies the article is a telling one. It's obvious that Allen is holding Dylan's hand but she is not holding his back. Ronan is lovingly holding Farrow's hand.

    • Bobby

      Oh, PLEEEEEASE!!!!!

  • mrsviceboss

    Always believe the child and go from there….investigate both parents.
    He seems to like his adopted girls, probably because of the contact of parental zone, they are always with in earshot in case they might say something and he hovers over them in protection mode, not to protect them but HIM. and Soon Yi better keep a careful eye on her adopted girls, a pedophile does not ever change, they get caught and go to jail, that's when the chain is broken. He married Soon Yi so she wouldn't talk about when the molestation started with her.

  • Stuart W

    Donkaye! Moderation in terms Molloy a waste of time. He's a muckraker with a demonstrated and abiding envy of his betters. Telling he ignores the obvious reanimation of these worn charges and the all-too-obvious chronology involved. He's already tried Allen, finding him wanting and guilty as charged. Suggest he might checkout the late, 1980's McMartin Pre School investigation and trial; where eventually the alleged preteen victims found coached by their parents, but too late to save the lives and careers of innocent defendants. Happen here? Truth will out!

  • David

    Sharon, what you're doing here is disgusting. The man was investigated
    20 years ago and they found no evidence, hence no charges much less a
    conviction. The longer you keep running this dreck the further you'll
    drop in the eyes of the town.

    • SPIKE

      FOOL. WHAT KIND OF EVIDENCE ARE THEY GONNA FIND?

      IN THE EYES OF “THE TOWN,” YOU SAY? WHO THE H— CARES WHAT THOSE HYPOCRITICAL, BACKSLAPPING, DIRTY UP TO THEIR EYEBALLS, NEO-LIBERAL SOCIALISTS THINK ABOUT ANYTHING?

      • getalife

        Spike —
        Neo-Liberal and Socialist are opposite concepts. But maybe that is a little too big for your tiny, angry little brain to grasp.

      • rose528

        they have more kindness for the people than a hypocritical, backstabbing, dirt up to their eyeballs, neo-nazi fascist party of NO (repugs) and their followers and any real American doesn't care what any of them think, that is if they can think and walk and talk at the same time

  • SPIKE

    Hey NY'S FINEST:
    lock him up, throw away the key. or make him make PSA'S for the next ten years about children who've been molested coming forward to police.

  • Jason

    Just because Mia screwed up her poor daughter convincing her she was molested by Woody Allen, it's beneath you to speculate on this absurd, discredited accusations. The man is presumed innocent until proved guilty and there's not a shred of evidence that in any way shows Woody to be guilty of this henious crime. In fact, it's Mia's brother, who's the CONVICTED child molester, not Allen. The article is really offensive for what it says… and for what it implies…

    • rose528

      spoken like a typical male

  • Mree

    Someone needs to investigate the 2 adopted girls living with him now – a pedophile isn't going to stop on his own . He laid the foundation for his obsession to continue when he and Soon- ye adopted 2 girls.

  • use4shopping

    I love and support Woody Allen and think his words speak for themselves.

    • rose528

      what words

    • CRUMBLOUIEFILMS

      I do not know what happened. I would hate to speculate as some are. Looking at his film, MANHATTAN, and his present wife, one might conclude that he likes young girls. Do we wish to stretch our speculation? If he is truly innocent, I think that Woody ought to subject himself to a lie detector test.

      These attacks on Woody are a disgusting thing to do.

      I look at the household. Mia had a son that she placed on Woody. What kind of person would do such a thing. She ought to return Woody's child support payments he made to her. She knew that boy was not his child. When Woody is prosecuted for child abuse, Mia ought to be prosecuted for paternity fraud at the same time. When justice works, that gate ought to swing both ways.

  • rose528

    he did it and lying about it will only be harder on him when he has to face her

  • amanda

    Woody is a pig. Lock him up. He should've been thrown in jail long ago. The inmates would've shown him how not to mess with kids. By the way, the little girl in the picture looks unhappy that he is holding her hand.

  • UrbanMan611

    The WRAP seems to want to fuel this garbage into something more than it is. Woody is not going to be prosecuted and nothing ever happened, in Connecticut or New York. Mia Farrow with her serial adoption kink is a freak and she's laid one heavy trip on her kids. Apparently her household is a manipulative house of terror and God help anyone who doesn't support Mia. Apparently she's short on cash and thinks Woody will be an easy score. I hope they put the bitch in jail. Let's put mommie and Dylan on a lie detector and go from there. I doubt if they'd be willing to do that. I'll bet Woody would do it. Truth always wins out.

  • qwertyu

    This has got to be one of the most vicious yet idiotic and speculative articles on the subject of Woody Allen yet. Hey, I heard that the author of this article resides in New York; If he molested a child there, he could be prosecuted there as well . . . .

  • Bobby

    Woody is an awesome genius. People with a lot of time on their hands that are full of hatred should take their millions and do some good work in the community and SHUT THEIR PIE HOLES!

  • Annie Delores Williams

    The Prosecutor said Woody Allen could not be prosecuted. Why? Many years after some Priests sexually abused children, they are prosecuted. If Woody Allen is guilty or innocent, let it be known through the courts.

  • ListenToVictimsofRape

    It's terrible to read people's comments supporting Woody Allen instead of the victim of childhood abuse. Reminds me of the Hasidic community attacking and denouncing people who come forward to report child rape – one of the very worst crimes can commit, and a crime that should never, EVER go unacknowledged and unpunished, because the predator can then destroy the lives and innocence of more children.

    I really don't care in the least who WA is or what he does or how brilliant he is, blah blah blah. He is a child rapist and should be on the National Sex Offender Registry. He should not be allowed near children.