Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Dylan Farrow, and Soon-Yi Previn: Old Controversies about False Abuse Accusations Rekindled

Woody Allen wins the Golden Globe’s Cecil B. Demille Award for his life’s work from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and an old family war is rekindled for all the public to see. Mia Farrow, Woody's ex girlfriend, criticized the award because of an old accusation that Woody Allen had molested his then seven year old daughter. Then the now 27 year old woman, Dylan Farrow, publishes her own open letter to the New York Times describing in detail what she alleges happened to her:http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/an-open-letter-from-dylan-farrow/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0Dylan FarrowHer description is quite detailed and very much consistent with a lot of stories from abuse victims that I have heard over the years.  I would first like to say unequivocally that the biggest problem in this country is not that false accusations of child abuse by those claiming to be incest victims are believed, but that the true ones are not. The best studies indicate that about 95% of such claims by adults turn out to be basically true, despite many specific details being recalled erroneously. It’s easy to confuse a blue shirt with a black one or a morning for an afternoon, for example, but one is not likely to get being raped mixed up with taking a trip to the supermarket.But what about that other 5%? The false accusations? It used to be that overzealous therapists pressured their more suggestible patients into “admitting” to having been abused under the nonsensical premise than anyone suffering from one psychological disorder or another simply must have been abused. Well, a few malpractice suits later, that phenomenon seems to have abated.The most common situation in which false accusations are made at present is during hotly-contested, super-nasty divorces with child custody being a bone of contention. Such false accusations are tied in with the phenomenon of parental alienation, in which one parent who maintains primary custody fills a child’s head with vicious lies and half-truths about the other parent. Parents who put their kids in the middle of their messy relationships like that are just as deserving of condemnation as a child abuser, because doing so is indeed a form of psychological child abuse.Which is what makes the Woody Allen case so interesting. Before Miss Farrow had her most recent say, Oscar nominated and Emmy winning film director Robert B. Weidepublished a story that had some possibly damning information in it about the whole sordid mess.http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/27/the-woody-allen-allegations-not-so-fast.htmlNow, I am not claiming to know the truth in the case. Repeat, I am not claiming to know the truth about what may or may not have happened to Miss Farrow. I can only make some general comments about publically available information, which never tells the whole story. As to Mr. Weide’s article, IF IT IS ALL TRUE AND COMPLETE (I’ll be repeating a version of that phrase several times, since some readers will undoubtedly not catch it the first few times), I can point out that there are an awful lot of the most typical indicators of a false accusation absolutely aglow in this story, at least as reported by the author of the piece. Still, this does not necessarily mean that the accusations are false, or that Mr. Allen (no relation) is telling the truth about being innocent. Repeat, nothing discussed in this post proves anything one way or the other.If you want to know how children can be induced to tell adults whatever the adults want to hear, I recommend a movie calledIndictment: the McMartin Trial, about a preschool scandal in Southern California in the early 1980’s. The alleged abusers were all eventually exonerated, but not before overzealous social workers elicited highly detailed stories from the children that were believed in spite of there being absolutely no evidence that they ever occurred, and which defied credulity in the first place. Like a story of a class field trip to the set of a pornographic movie.At the time of the original allegations made my Woody Allen’s girlfriend-at-the-time Mia Farrow, Woody was having an inappropriate affair with Mia’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn. Mia allegedly found out about the affair when she found naked pictures of her daughter taken by Woody. An affair with her own daughter!  (Soon-Yi was at least 19 at the time, and Woody Allen’s extent of “parental” involvement was taking the girl to the occasional basketball game, so it is not true that he was her stepfather. Mia and Woody did not live together, were never married, and Soon-Yi’s adopted father was Andre Previn).So, as Mr. Weide points out, “It’s understandable that Mia would remain furious with Woody for the rest of her life.”  She would have reason to suspect Woody of the worst possible behavior.  Of course, she herself was an admitted cheater who apparently had more than one affair herself during her life. Maybe Woody was the one who got angry first. Who knows? The point is that there was a lot of anger involved in this break up, which makes this fertile ground for possibleparental alienation behavior on Mia’s part.According to the article by Weide, On August 4, 1992, almost four months after the revelation about Woody and Soon-Yi’s relationship understandably ignited a firestorm within the Farrow household, Woody was visiting Frog Hollow, the Farrow country home in Bridgewater, Connecticut, where Mia and several of her kids were staying. During an unsupervised moment, Woody allegedly took Dylan into the attic and, shall we say, “touched her inappropriately.” Later in the day, it was alleged that the child was wearing her sundress, but that her underpants were missing. The following day, Mia’s daughter allegedly told her mother what had happened, and Mia put the child’s recounting of the story on videotape as evidence...  If Mia’s account is true, it means that in the middle of custody and support negotiations, during which Woody needed to be on his best behavior, in a house belonging to his furious ex-girlfriend, and filled with people seething mad at him, Woody, who is a well-known claustrophobic, decided this would be the ideal time and place to take his daughter into an attic and molest her, quickly, before a house full of children and nannies noticed they were both missing...As for the evidentiary videotape of young Dylan’s claims, it’s been noted that there were several starts and stops in the recording, essentially creating in-camera “edits” to the young girl’s commentary. This raises questions as to what was happening when the tape wasn’t running. Was Mia “coaching” her daughter off-camera, as suggested by the investigators? Mia says no—she merely turned the camera on whenever Dylan starting talking about what Daddy did. Maybe we should take Mia at her word on this. Since I wasn’t there, I think it’s good policy not to presume what took place...A New York Times article dated March 26, 1993, quotes from Mia’s own testimony, during which she recalled taking the child to a doctor on the same day as the alleged incident. Farrow recalled, “I think (Dylan) said (Allen) touched her, but when asked where, she just looked around and went like this,” at which point Mia patted her shoulders. Farrow recalls she took Dylan to another doctor, four days later. On the stand, Allen’s attorney asked Mia about the second doctor’s findings: “There was no evidence of injury to the anal or vaginal area, is that correct?” Farrow answered, “Yes.”...Former nanny Monica Thompson (whose salary was paid by Allen, since three of the brood were also his) swore in a deposition to Allen’s attorneys that she was pressured by Farrow to support the molestation charges, and the pressure led her to resign her position. Thompson had this to say about the videotape: ““I know that the tape was made over the course of at least two and perhaps three days. I recall Ms. Farrow saying to Dylan at that time, ‘Dylan, what did daddy do… and what did he do next?’ Dylan appeared not to be interested, and Ms. Farrow would stop taping for a while and then continue.”...Dr. John Leventhal further swears Dylan’s statements at the hospital contradicted each other as well as the story she told on the videotape. “Those were not minor inconsistencies. She told us initially that she hadn’t been touched in the vaginal area, and she then told us that she had, then she told us that she hadn’t.” He also said the child’s accounts had “a rehearsed quality.” At one point, she told him, “I like to cheat on my stories.”And then there was this quote from Moses Farrow - Dylan's brother, also adopted, and now a 36-year-old family therapist: "My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister," Moses Farrow, 36, told People Magazine. "And I hated him for her for years. I see now that this was a vengeful way to pay him back for falling in love with Soon-Yi." He added, "Pleasing my mother was very powerful motivation [for Dylan] because to be on her wrong side was horrible." Dylan called her brother's statement a betrayal.It’s also interesting that Mia Farrow’s brother, John Charles Villiers-Farrow, has been convicted of multiple counts of child molestation. Mia may have exposed her children to him, so maybe there is a perp that is not Woody.These observations, if true and complete, raise some serious questions about whether Dylan might be being loyal to her mother by repeating her not-really-true story in the press after her mother brought the subject back to public attention after the Golden Globes.So, after reading this, anyone who thinks that Dylan’s accusation simply must be true or simply must be false is either highly defensive, blinded by anger, or a simpleton. No offense.As someone who has studied dysfunctional families for almost 40 years, and who specializes in helping adults who were abused by attachment figures as children successfully confront their abusers, I want to add a few more random random thoughts about the case:    1.  While reporting ongoing child abuse to the police and prosecuting the perp to the full extent of the law is absolutely essential, airing dirty laundry in public this long after the fact is almost always counterproductive for the victim. Victims may think they would feel a lot better if they get either revenge or just plain old justice for the perpetrator, and they may for a short time. But they are still left with a gaping hole in their soul where their family should be, and they often still have great difficulty self actualizing, or successfully charting their own course in life. As my readers know, I recommend that my patients work with me to discover ways to get past their family member’s formidable defenses and confront the issues involved head on.2.  There's ALWAYS more to the story that abuse victims and other family members tell people about - even people who know them very well, let alone strangers or the public. Sometimes my patients leave out essentials of their experiences for MONTHS into therapy.Victims of child abuse are much more likely to hide their parent's behavior than they are to exaggerate it.  3.  That Dylan Farrow came from a highly dysfunctional background that harmed her seems to be a near certainty, but the details that we know about this case raise a lot more questions than they answer about what actually happened.  Events in a family can be lied about out of loyalty by one family member to another. I would certainly want to ask about Dylan's relationship with her mother. If Dylan was abused, that means that Mia failed to protect her daughter in this case. Many abuse victims are more angry with the non-protective parent than with the abuser!  Sometimes that anger is covered up. In a reaction formation, the person obsessively loves and/or idolizes the person she's really furious with.  (Not saying it's true, but if Mia coached Dylan and pressured her to make the accusation, this could create a LOT of interesting scenarios).That some of the Mia's children are angry with her seems likely. As I mentioned earlier, it was reported that Mia found out about Woody's relationship with Soon Yi by finding nude pictures of her around the house, taken by Woody. If this is true, why would Soon Yi, who was an adult at the time, have a sexual relationship with her own mother's boyfriend and then conveniently leave evidence about it lying around the house for Mom to find? (Did she leave it around accidentally? Bullshit). If this is true, then to surmise that Soon Yi is really pissed with her mother is probably a safe bet. Whyis she so angry? That would be an interesting story.I also find it fascinating that Soon Yi seems to get a free pass on her relationship with Woody – she married him and adopted children with him and they are still together - from all the people who are absolutely certain that Woody is a pedophile.We also know by her own admission and a pregnancy that there was cheating in Mia's past, and families in which infidelity is the norm create a lot of chaos for children. Certainly child sexual abuse could also be present, but it would just as certainly not be required for this "family" to be severely dysfunctional.

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