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Woody Allen rep: Open letter 'untrue'
03:25 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Dylan Farrow accuses Woody Allen of sexually abusing her when she was 7

"The one to blame for Dylan's distress is neither Dylan nor Woody Allen," his lawyer says

The controversy began in 1992 amid revelations that Allen was dating Soon-Yi Previn

A criminal investigation ended with no charges against Woody Allen

Los Angeles CNN  — 

Renewed accusations that Woody Allen molested an adopted daughter two decades ago were “engineered by a vengeful lover,” the filmmaker’s lawyer told CNN on Monday.

The allegations were “fully vetted and rejected by independent authorities,” Allen attorney Elkan Abramowitz said in a written statement.

The controversy dates back to 1992 after the revelation that Allen, then 56, was having an affair with Soon-Yi Previn, Mia Farrow’s 19-year-old adopted daughter with composer Andre Previn. Allen and Previn married five years later.

Allen’s legal and public relations teams scrambled to respond to an open letter written by Dylan Farrow and published by The New York Times on Saturday recounting her allegation that Allen sexually assaulted her when she was a child.

“What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house,” Farrow wrote. “He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me.”

When Mia Farrow’s 12-year relationship with Allen ended two decades ago, the actress accused him of molesting Dylan, one of two children she had adopted with Allen. The charge triggered a child custody battle, with Allen going to court to get both adopted children and Satchel, their biological son, who now goes by Ronan Farrow. But a police investigation of the allegations ended without charges against Allen.

“A team of investigators from Yale-New Haven Hospital that was retained by the Connecticut State Police subsequently concluded Dylan had not been abused,” according to an account in the Times, which covered the custody proceedings.

Acting Justice Elliott Wilk of New York’s State Supreme Court “said it was unlikely that Mr. Allen could be prosecuted for sexual abuse based on the evidence,” the newspaper reported. “But while a team of experts concluded that Dylan was not abused, the judge said he found the evidence inconclusive.”

A former prosecutor who decided against pressing charges in the case declined to comment on the details in Dylan Farrow’s letter Sunday.

“As a prosecutor I really can’t comment on the substance of the statement of this now young woman. As a father of a child not too much older than this young woman, I can only say I hope she finds some peace and solace in the way she’s expressing herself,” former Connecticut State’s Attorney Frank Maco said. “I hope she had access to my written statement of decision. My statement is as valid today as it was 20 years ago.”

In 1993, Maco – who’s since retired – told reporters he believed there was probable cause to arrest Allen. But he said he decided not to press charges, with Mia Farrow’s support, “rather than exposing the child to possible harm.”

Allen’s team responds

Allen’s lawyer responded in a statement e-mailed to CNN on Monday: “It is tragic that after 20 years a story engineered by a vengeful lover resurfaces even though it was fully vetted and rejected by independent authorities. The one to blame for Dylan’s distress is neither Dylan nor Woody Allen.”

Allen denies Farrow’s allegation

Allen representative Leslee Dart said in a prepared statement Sunday that Allen “read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful.” He would respond “very soon,” Dart said.

“At the time, a thorough investigation was conducted by court appointed independent experts,” Dart said. “The experts concluded there was no credible evidence of molestation; that Dylan Farrow had an inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality; and that Dylan Farrow had likely been coached by her mother Mia Farrow. No charges were ever filed.”

Dylan Farrow’s letter addressed this: “Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime. That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up,” she wrote. “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.”

Kristof, who described himself as a friend of Mia and Ronan Farrow, said Dylan Farrow is now happily married and living in Florida.

When the Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave Allen a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes last month, his son tweeted: “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?”

Dylan Farrow’s letter appeared in Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s blog just hours before the Writers Guild Awards ceremony, for which Allen had been nominated for best screenplay for “Blue Jasmine.” He did not win.

Academy voters begin casting Oscar ballots on February 14. Allen and his cast are up for three Academy Awards, including best original screenplay for Allen, best actress for Cate Blanchett and best supporting actress for Sally Hawkins.

Dylan Farrow admonished actors by name for “turning a blind eye” and for continuing to work with Allen. CNN reached out to the stars that Dylan Farrow challenged by name in her letter but has not yet received responses.

In a series of Twitter posts Sunday, actor Alec Baldwin, who starred in “Blue Jasmine,” fired back at people asking him to respond to the allegations. “You are mistaken if you think there is a place for me, or any outsider, in this family’s issue,” he wrote.

In another post, he slammed someone who asked whether he owed Dylan Farrow an apology: “What the f&@% is wrong w u that u think we all need to b commenting on this family’s personal struggle?”

In an op-ed column released Friday by The New York Times, Woody Allen blames Mia Farrow’s malevolence over their breakup for a two-decade-old false accusation that he molested their adopted daughter, Dylan, when she was 7.

CNN’s Chelsea J. Carter, Ralph Ellis, Carolyn Sung, Todd Leopold, Sarah Edwards, Michelle Hall, Nischelle Turner and Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.