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In much of America, it's generally believed that Woody Allen sexually abused his adopted daughter, Dylan. Now, 32, Dylan says that Allen took her into the attic at the family's home in Connecticut and assaulted her when she was 7, while he was in the middle of a contentious
divorce breakup (they were never married) from Mia Farrow, Dylan's adopted mother. Dylan wrote about this in the New York Times in 2014. More recently, in the midst of the #MeToo movement, Dylan has said that it's time for her father to face a reckoning for his alleged abuse. Her pleas seem to be taking hold: Stars Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, Kathleen Kennedy, America Ferrera, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Shonda Rhimes have all said they believe Dylan and that time is finally up for Woody Allen.
Although Dylan's claims were repeatedly investigated and found without merit, one of Dylan's brothers, Ronan Farrow, unequivocally believes his sister. Ronan has defended Dylan's accusations in the press, and, a journalist, he was instrumental in the take-down of Harvey Weinstein after publishing detailed accounts of Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct and cover ups in the New Yorker.
But Dylan has another brother, Moses (now a therapist) and he denies that Woody Allen ever abused his sister; in fact, according to Moses, it was Mia Farrow who was the abusive parent, not Woody Allen.
In a book published last September called Start to Finish, author Eric Lax details the allegations made against Woody Allen and his children's differing memories of their childhood. Here's an excerpt, which was recently published online:
On at least one occasion, Moses fought back. “One summer day in the Connecticut house, Mia accused me of leaving the curtains closed in the TV room; they had been drawn the day before when Dylan and [Ronan] were watching a movie. She insisted that I had closed them and left them that way. Her friend had come over to visit and while they were in the kitchen, my mother insisted I had shut the curtains. At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore and I lost it. I yelled at her, ‘You’re lying!’ She shot me a look and took me into the bathroom next to the TV room. She hit me uncontrollably all over my body. She slapped me, pushed me back and hit me on my chest. She said, ‘How dare you say I’m a liar in front of my friend. You’re the pathological liar.’ I was defeated, deflated, and beaten down. Mia had stripped me of my voice and my sense of self. It was clear that if I stepped even slightly outside her carefully crafted reality, she would not tolerate it. Yet, I grew up fiercely loyal and obedient to her, even though I lived in extreme fear of her. Based on my own experience, it’s possible that Mia rehearsed with Dylan what she ended up recording on video. As she had done with me, it’s conceivable she set the stage, the mood, and scripted what was to take place.”
Around the time of the custody trial in 1993, a person who went often to the Farrow home found Dylan crying one day. The story has been confirmed with someone else who often visited. “Dylan asked me, ‘Is it okay to lie?’ She felt she didn’t want to lie and wondered, What would God think? She wanted an Attic Kids doll, but Mia forbade it. This was shortly before Dylan was to speak with someone connected with the trial. She said, ‘Mom wants me to say something I don’t want to say.’ Then the next week she had the Attic Kids doll with a yellow dress. I asked, ‘What happened?’ She said, ‘I did what my mom asked.’”
The story does not surprise Moses, who adds, “This, I can speak to with confidence. Mia’s ability and intent to mold her children to do her bidding was matched by her living in constant fear her secrets of abusive parenting would be divulged and the reputation she built as the loving mother of a large brood of adopted kids would be destroyed. My biggest fear was that we would be rejected, excommunicated rather, from her and the family. I lived in constant threat of this happening. As an adopted child, there is no bigger fear than to lose your family.”
I reached out to Robert Weide, an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker who also reported on the Allen allegations and concluded that Moses's recollections are correct—Allen never abused his daughter, and Mia Farrow used her power over the children to convince them they'd been harmed. Weide posted the Start to Finish excerpt on his blog, and I asked why he thinks Dylan's story has gotten so much traction while Moses's hasn't. "I imagine it muddies up the accepted narrative that’s making the rounds right now," he said. "I think the fact that it’s a male making the abuse claims about a woman that some people believe is some kind of humanitarian is a part of it, and I do believe the fact that Moses isn’t white also plays a role. But Moses’ story is not going to go away, and I can only stress again that what he’s revealed so far is only the tip of the iceberg."
If it's true, the story of what Mia did to Moses and his siblings is harrowing. If you are among the (many) people who believe that Woody Allen is guilty, you might just want to give it a read.