A woman who says she was Woody Allen’s secret young lover decades ago has no regrets, although she now sees the relationship in a different light from when she was a teenager.
Christina Engelhardt said she was 16 years old when she met Allen, 41 at the time, at famed New York City celebrity hangout Elaine’s in 1976. An aspiring model and New Jersey high school student at the time, she said their relationship became sexual after she turned 17, the legal age of consent in New York. CNN has reached out to Allen and his representatives for comment but has not gotten a response.
“I don’t have anything negative toward him, he meant a lot to me. He didn’t hurt or help me,” Engelhardt told CNN.
“I was very much in love with him,” she said. But did he love her? “I was naïve. He certainly liked me … I was a bright-eyed kid, I thought he was the greatest thing.”
Engelhardt said the relationship lasted from 1976 to 1984, when she moved from New York to Los Angeles. She became an actress and now works for a production company and reads tarot cards.
Engelhardt shared her account with the Hollywood Reporter, after sitting for years on an unpublished memoir about her time with Allen, she said.
Engelhardt believes her passionate affair with Allen partly inspired the acclaimed 1979 film “Manhattan,” directed by and starring Allen as a frustrated television writer who dates a high school girl after his wife leaves him.
“I can only assume, by the timing, the friendship, I am not saying I’m the [only] one – it could have been different people.”
Allen has faced allegations of sexual molestation in the past. His adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, 33, said that he sexually assaulted her when she was seven years old.
Allen has consistently denied the allegation and was not charged in the matter. Investigators concluded at the time that Farrow had not been abused, according to The New York Times, which covered the custody proceedings after Allen filed for custody of his three children with Mia Farrow in 1992.
Engelhardt said that hearing women share their accounts of sexual misconduct and abuses of power as part of #MeToo prompted her to come forward – but she’s not part of the movement, she said. She just felt it was time to share her story.
She supports those who have shared their experiences of being manipulated or violated by the powerful. But that’s not how her relationship was with Allen, she said. He didn’t prey on her. Other men have hurt and abused her, she said, but not him.
“I didn’t think of myself as a victim. I went into New York, I got on the bus, I was looking at this man who was magical – he was brilliant,” she said.
“There are unusual relationships where you are not a victim. You can have a big age gap. I know I told the story more than anything not to go against the Me Too movement – I want the people who hurt me to pay the price. But, there are people who fall in love.”
She said she was raped at a young age, an experience that made her feel distant from people her age because they would not understand what had happened to her, she said. That happened before she started seeing Allen.
With him, she thought, “this will be a man who will see me differently,” she said.
“I was 16-17 going on 30. I was independent, I spoke multiple languages, I read poetry, I studied philosophy, I couldn’t talk about quantum physics with people my age. I am attracted to mental things, exploring literature. How could I be with a young boy? I was weary of boys, I hungered for someone to have an intellectual camaraderie. Woody was absolutely charming.”
Once actress Mia Farrow came into Allen’s life, Engelhardt realized the relationship was not what she thought it was. She was disappointed, she said, but she liked Farrow too much to hold a grudge. CNN has reached out to Farrow and her representatives for comment but has not yet received a response.
“When he met Mia, she was so wonderful in his eyes and was more age appropriate. I just liked them both. I liked her so much,” she said. “This was his real relationship.”