One day after Dylan Farrow, Woody Allen’s adopted daughter, wrote an open letter detailing the sexual abuse she suffered at his hands as a child, the director responded to the allegations on Sunday, describing them as “untrue and disgraceful”.
Dylan Farrow, who is now living in Florida under a different name, was one of two children Allen adopted while in a relationship with actress Mia Farrow. Allegations that he had sexually abused her when she was 7 years old first surfaced in the early 1990s, around the time of his split with Mia Farrow. An investigation was launched, but Allen was never arrested or prosecuted.
Dylan Farrow’s letter, which was published by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, a friend of the Farrows, questions the acclaim Allen has received over the years, and describes how it has tormented her.
Allen’s representatives later responded to the allegations laid bare in the letter.
“Mr. Allen has read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful,” his spokeswoman Leslee Dart said.
There is little chance, however, that the case will be re-examined. Legal experts said that even if prosecutors felt that Dylan Farrow could provide enough evidence, it might be too late to take legal action against Allen in the state of Connecticut, where the incident is alleged to have taken place.
According to Todd Fernow, a law professor at the University of Connecticut, the state’s statute of limitations for all but the most serious sexual crimes lasts five years from the date of the original police report, which if applied to Dylan Farrow’s claim of having been abused in 1992 would have expired in 1997.
Connecticut state prosecutor Frank Maco in 1993 declined to bring charges against Allen and retired in 2003. He declined to speculate on Sunday about whether a criminal case could be brought based on the allegations Dylan Farrow has outlined.
But he added that whether the statute of limitations had passed would depend on several factors including the nature of the evidence and changes in the law in the past decade.
Maco said that he examined the question before he retired and did not believe then a criminal case was still possible. “When I left office, I was satisfied that the statute of limitations had long run in that case,” he said.
Allegations come amid awards season
Dylan Farrow’s letter comes just weeks after Allen, 78, received a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes ceremony, an honour that prompted negative comments from both Mia Farrow and Dylan’s brother, Ronan Farrow.
“Missed the Woody Allen tribute – did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?” Ronan tweeted.
Allen’s latest film, “Blue Jasmine,” has also received three Oscar nominations, including one for best screenplay.
Elkan Abramowitz, the lawyer who represented Allen at the time of the investigation into the original allegations, appeared to blame Mia Farrow for the latest round of accusations, without naming her directly.
“It is tragic that after 20 years, a story engineered by a vengeful lover resurfaces after it was fully vetted and rejected by independent authorities,” Abramowitz said. “The one to blame for Dylan’s distress is neither Dylan nor Woody Allen.”
A representative for Mia Farrow did not respond to requests for comment.
Mia Farrow and Allen split in 1992 amid revelations that Allen had an affair with Farrow’s then 22-year-old adopted daughter, Soon-Yi, whom Allen married in 1997.
At the time of their break-up, Mia Farrow accused Allen of abusing Dylan. The letter released by Kristof marks the first time Dylan Farrow has written publicly about the allegations, although she repeated the claim last year in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine.
In excerpts of the letter, Dylan Farrow wrote that Allen one day led her to an attic at their house when she was 7.
“He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me,” Dylan Farrow wrote.
She also questioned why Allen, who has won four Oscars, is still so widely appreciated. She publicly challenged actors who have worked with him, asking how they would feel if they had a child who suffered the abuse that she said she did.
Cate Blanchett, who played the lead in “Blue Jasmine,” responded to the letter at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, telling the blog Hollywood Elsewhere, “I mean, it’s obviously been a long and painful situation for the family and I hope they find some sort of resolution and peace.”
A spokesman for Alec Baldwin declined to comment.