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Woody Allen fires back over decades-old molestation allegations

By Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
February 8, 2014 -- Updated 2035 GMT (0435 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Dylan Farrow stands by her accusations
  • In 1992, Woody Allen's and Mia Farrow's 12-year relationship ended
  • Allen, then 56, was involved with Soon-Yi Previn, Farrow's 19-year-old adopted daughter
  • Farrow accused Allen of molesting Dylan, then 7, whom the couple had adopted

(CNN) -- 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.

The film director's opinion piece follows renewed allegations that were made last week by Dylan Farrow, who accused him in an open letter published by the Times of sexually assaulting her as young girl.

"Not that I doubt Dylan hasn't come to believe she's been molested, but if from the age of 7 a vulnerable child is taught by a strong mother to hate her father because he is a monster who abused her, is it so inconceivable that after many years of this indoctrination the image of me Mia wanted to establish had taken root?" Allen writes in the Times.

Dylan Farrow stood by her accusations in a statement responding to Allen's op-ed.

"Once again, Woody Allen is attacking me and my family in an effort to discredit and silence me -- but nothing he says or writes can change the truth," she said. "For 20 years, I have never wavered in describing what he did to me. I will carry the memories of surviving these experiences for the rest of my life."

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 Soon-Yi Previn married five years later.

Relatives take Allen's side

When Mia Farrow's 12-year relationship with Allen ended, the actress accused him of molesting Dylan, one of two children she had adopted with Allen.

Actress Mia Farrow had a long-term relationship with actor/director Woody Allen, whom she met in 1979. She starred in 13 of his films and he was believed to be the father of her son Satchel (shown here as an infant) as well as the acting father of her other children, including adopted daughter Dylan shown here being held by Allen. The couple split in 1992. Actress Mia Farrow had a long-term relationship with actor/director Woody Allen, whom she met in 1979. She starred in 13 of his films and he was believed to be the father of her son Satchel (shown here as an infant) as well as the acting father of her other children, including adopted daughter Dylan shown here being held by Allen. The couple split in 1992.
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"Twenty-one years ago, when I first heard Mia Farrow had accused me of child molestation, I found the idea so ludicrous I didn't give it a second thought. We were involved in a terribly acrimonious breakup, with great enmity between us and a custody battle slowly gathering energy," Allen wrote.

"The self-serving transparency of her malevolence seemed so obvious I didn't even hire a lawyer to defend myself. It was my show business attorney who told me she was bringing the accusation to the police and I would need a criminal lawyer."

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 with no charges against Allen.

At the time, Allen lashed out at authorities who handled the case and accused prosecutors of scheming to keep it open to influence his custody battle.

Adopted daughter says Woody Allen sexually assaulted her

Even as the decades passed, the scandal permanently damaged Allen's image -- that of a neurotic but amusing schlub with a talent for slapstick and witty one-liners. He denied the accusations from Dylan and said his relationship with Farrow, which had been painted in storybook colors by the press, was not actually all that strong.

However, the scandal has always been near the surface, and the open letter in The New York Times is one of a number of instances in recent months where the allegation has been raised.

He did marry Soon-Yi Previn in 1997, and after the marriage came a slightly more public Woody Allen. The couple were the focus of a 1997 Barbara Kopple documentary, "Wild Man Blues," which portrayed a generally happy pair. Allen was also the subject of a 2011 Robert Weide film, "Woody Allen: A Documentary," which briskly addressed Farrow's allegations from Allen's point of view.

In her open letter, Dylan Farrow admonished actors by name for "turning a blind eye" and for continuing to work with Allen.

But in the opinion piece, Allen questioned whether Dylan Farrow wrote the letter of her own accord or was guided by her mother in writing the letter.

"Does the letter really benefit Dylan or does it simply advance her mother's shabby agenda? That is to hurt me with a smear. There is even a lame attempt to do professional damage by trying to involve movie stars, which smells a lot more like Mia than Dylan," Allen wrote.

In a November Vanity Fair article, Allen was condemned by Mia Farrow's children, especially Dylan.

After that article's publication, a representative for Allen told CNN, "The article is so fictitious and extravagantly absurd that he is not going to comment."

The article, Dylan Farrow's letter and Twitter postings by Ronan Farrow attacking his estranged father come as the 78-year-old director and his latest film -- "Blue Jasmine" -- are up for honors during Hollywood's annual award season.

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.

CNN's Alan Duke and Todd Leopold contributed to this report.

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