Dylan Farrow, the adopted daughter of actress Mia Farrow and her then-partner, filmmaker Woody Allen, has written an open letter published by the New York Times website detailing a 1992 incident in which she says Allen molested her.
Though the case made headlines back in 1993 and her mother and brother Ronan have discussed the case before, this is the first time Dylan has spoken publicly on the subject.
Dylan, now 28, was adopted by Farrow and Allen in 1987 when she was 2. Five years later, she writes that Allen led her by the hand to a room in their house where "he told me to lie on my stomach and play with my brother's electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me."
She goes on to say that "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."
The incident in the attic was not the first time Allen touched her, she said, though she does not give a time frame for how long the alleged abuse went on. She only goes as far as saying that, "for as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I did not like. ... These things happened so often, so routinely, so skillfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal. I thought this was how fathers doted on their daughters. But what he did to me in the attic felt different. I couldn't keep the secret anymore."
At that point, she told Farrow, who left Allen that same year after the news broke of his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, the 19-year-old daughter she had adopted with husband Andre Previn. (Allen and Soon-Yi married in 1997 and have two adopted daughters, Bechet and Menzie.)
A custody battle over their adopted children ensued and Allen's attorneys alleged that her mother encouraged her to make up the abuse allegations.
In September 1993, Connecticut state attorney Frank Maco declined to prosecute Allen, saying that while he had probable cause, he did not wish to inflict any further anguish on Dylan by making her testify. Farrow won custody of their adopted children and Allen was denied visitation rights.
"That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up," Dylan writes. "I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself. That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, 'who can say what happened,' to pretend that nothing was wrong. ... For so long, Woody Allen's acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away."
But this award season, Dylan says she felt differently. "This time, I refuse to fall apart. ... Today, I consider myself lucky. I am happily married. I have the support of my amazing brothers and sisters. I have a mother who found within herself a well of fortitude that saved us from the chaos a predator brought into our home."
Why is all of this coming back up now? The Farrow family's feelings toward Allen have been stirred up by the award season attention being paid to him, including the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award at January's Golden Globes and his Oscar nomination for best original screenplay for Blue Jasmine.
"Imagine your 7-year-old daughter being led into an attic by Woody Allen," she commands the reader. "Imagine she spends a lifetime stricken with nausea at the mention of his name. Imagine a world that celebrates her tormentor."
She drives her point home by calling out the stars of his films. "What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis C.K.? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?"