New Haven, CT
- Newest Twist In Woody Allen Story: Sexual-Abuse Investigation (08/18/1992)
- Public Disclosures From the Private Life of Woody Allen (08/18/1992)
- Allen's Friends Challenge Sexual Abuse Accusations : Custody battle: His colleagues portray him as a devoted family man. They say Farrow may be putting words in her children's mouths. (08/22/1992)
- Child abuse claims: new divorce weapon (09/04/1992)
- Woody Allen Wins Right to See Videotape : Custody case: The filmmaker makes a surprise appearance at New York hearing. A judge also rules he can send gifts to his children. (12/16/1992)
- Woody Allen Says Report Clears Him (03/19/1993)
- Panel`s Report May Exonerate Woody Allen (03/19/1993)
- Allen Says Report Vindicates Him (03/19/1993)
- Allen Says He's Exonerated by Abuse Report (03/19/1993)
- Woody Allen Says Coping With Abuse Charge Difficult (03/21/1993)
- Farrow Tells of Offer to Break Allen's Legs : Custody: Actress says an ex-husband proposed the violent solution to her legal duel with filmmaker. She testifies daughter made second claim of sex abuse. (03/27/1993)
- `Mia/woody' Battles Not Rare In Divorce Court (04/08/1993)
- Judge rules Woody Allen hopelessly unsuited for parenthood (06/08/1993)
- Allen Loses to Farrow in Bitter Custody Battle (06/08/1993)
- Trial Ruled Out in Woody Allen Sex Abuse Case (09/25/1993)
- Woody Allen Fails to Beat A Prosecutor (11/04/1993)
- Woody Allen Case Against Prosecutor May Be Over (06/26/1997)
- WOODY ALLEN v. MARIA VILLIERS FARROW (05/12/1994)
- Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen Defend Child Rapist Roman Polanski, Why Shouldn't You? (09/25/1993)
- Case of Roman Polanski
The matter, according to sources on both sides, arose earlier this month when Farrow, 47, took the child to a pediatrician near Bridgewater, Conn., where she maintains a home, and asked him to examine the child for abuse.
The physician, whose name was not disclosed, was required by state law to report to authorities that he had been asked to look for possible abuse, automatically triggering the investigation, the sources said. State police have been to Farrow's estate at least twice, one source said, as part of their investigation.
Last night, Allen publicist Leslee Dart denied the abuse charges. "Anybody who wants can make a complaint, whether false or not false, and the state police are required to investigate," Dart said. Criminal charges have not been filed, she said.
One source close to Allen said that the examination disclosed "no physical manifestations to support the claim" of abuse, while a Farrow supporter said that Allen's custody suit was designed to blunt the stories that have since surfaced about Allen and some of the children.
A state police spokesman would say only that "there is a criminal investigation going on, and there is no comment."
News of the Connecticut investigation came just hours after the 56-year-old filmmaker professed his love for Soon-Yi Farrow Previn, the adopted daughter of Farrow and her former husband, conductor Andre Previn.
Sources say that the affair was responsible for a burst of legal activity and personal attacks that have marked the nasty custody fight since Thursday, when Allen filed suit to gain custody of adopted daughter Dylan, 7; adopted son Moses, 14, and the couple's natural son, Satchel, 4.
"Regarding my love for Soon-Yi: It's real and happily all true," Allen said in a statement released through Dart. "She's a lovely, intelligent, sensitive woman who has and continues to turn around my life in a wonderfully positive way."
Allen and Soon-Yi Farrow Previn, a sophomore at Drew University in Madison, N.J., reportedly started their affair about seven months ago, according to friends of Allen.
But as long ago as Jan. 23, 1990, they were photographed holding hands at a New York Knicks basketball game at Madison Square Garden. In court papers, she is said to be 21; but Farrow has told her attorneys that she is 19, and a New York television station reported last night that a brother of Soon-Yi, Fletcher Previn, said she is just 18.
Yet Allen insisted in his written statement that his relationship with Farrow's daughter had "no bearing whatsoever on my present application for custody of my three children. They are totally separate issues."
"The last thing I wanted to do was go to court. I have tried agonizingly to work out the details privately, but finally I was left with no alternative," Allen said.
Attorney Alan Dershowitz, one of two lawyers representing Farrow, denied Farrow was behind the allegation. "Any criminal investigation was not initiated by Mia Farrow. She has been and still remains interested in trying to resolve this thing," he said.
One source said that the director's affair with Soon-Yi Farrow Previn began long after domestic distress first surfaced between Allen and Farrow, who has appeared in 13 of his films. The two always maintained separate Manhattan addresses and never married.
Allen, as is his routine, played clarinet last night at Michael's Pub on East 55th Street, entering through an office building next door, accompanied by two escorts. He took the stage at 9 p.m., played to 10, and some patrons said the show was no different than usual.
One woman who attended the show said that Allen received a warm reception. When he exited the stage, amid tight security, he walked through the back dining room. He signed two autographs, then ducked into an adjoining building.
A noted legal expert predicted yesterday that Allen's revelation probably kills his chances to obtain custody of the three children.
"I think her chances of keeping custody of the children are pretty good," said Marvin Mitchelson, the celebrity divorce lawyer from Los Angeles.
But it is also likely, given recent trends in the courts to give joint custody to mothers and fathers, that Allen will be allowed to continue to see his children, Mitchelson said.
"You are talking about somebody who is a degenerate, to some degree," said Manhattan divorce lawyer Raoul Felder. "His chance of custody was between zero and none originally . . . This reflection on his moral character would preclude custody, and probably (unsupervised) visitation."
Farrow has four natural children - three of them while she was married to conductor Andre Previn - and seven adopted kids, including the Korean-born Soon-Yi. Neither Farrow nor Soon-Yi Farrow Previn could be reached for comment.
By DAVID TREADWELL and JOHN J. GOLDMAN
Los Angeles Times - August 22, 1992
Allen was described as a devoted father and family man whose character is being viciously slandered because of Farrow's wrath over Allen's love affair with her adopted daughter from a previous marriage.
Aronson was alluding to recent television interviews given by two of Farrow's children, 14-year-old Moses Amadeus Farrow and 17-year-old Daisy Previn, in which the youngsters assailed Allen as a disturbed and violent man.
Aronson contended that Farrow treats her 11 children almost like servants and that Allen seeks custody of the three who call him father because of his concern for their welfare.
"He is absolutely appalled at the treatment of the children," she said.
But the idea that the actress is using her children as mouthpieces to attack and discredit Allen was dismissed by Gary Springer, a member of John Springer Associates, the Manhattan-based firm that handles Farrow's publicity.
"She's not parading anybody," he said. "It's not like a plot on Mia's part, with her saying, 'You kids go here, you kids go there.' These kids are old enough not to be manipulated. They say what they want."
Marshall Brickman, a screenwriter and longtime collaborator with Allen, said that he finds Farrow's accusations of sexual abuse "hard to reconcile" with the man he has known and worked with for so long.
"The stuff I have been reading in the papers, it doesn't compute," he said. "I would have no problem leaving my children with Woody. It seems like (Farrow) is very distressed about something. She's probably very (peeved) that he got involved with the older girl."
Brickman added that he had talked to Allen recently and that his friend was distraught over the charges being leveled against him.
"I think this thing is breaking his heart," he said. "It must be very sad for him. He has a very strong moral sense."
Film critic Judith Crist, another longtime friend of Allen's, added: "I think that having a family relationship meant a good deal to him. I regard him as a very decent human being, sensitive, and a creative man with great loyalties."
Allen seeks custody of Moses, who is adopted; their adopted daughter, Dylan, 7, and the couple's biological son, Satchel, 4 1/2.
Legal proceedings in the case are set to began Monday in state Supreme Court, New York's trial-level court, before Justice Phyllis Gangel-Jacob.
Farrow has eight other children: three biological children from her marriage to pianist-conductor Andre Previn and five others that they adopted. Previn was her second husband. She previously was married to singer-actor Frank Sinatra.
Allen confessed to reporters this week that he is in love with one of Farrow's adopted daughters from her marriage to Previn, Soon-Yi Farrow Previn, a Korean orphan who has no birth certificate but is believed to be 21.
She is expected to return to Rider College in Lawrence, N.J., next week for her final week of summer classes, school officials told the Associated Press.
"We knew she had a boyfriend, but we didn't know who," said Rachel Coffman, a junior from Schenectady, N.Y., who lives in the same dormitory as Soon-Yi Farrow Previn.
Farrow has accused Allen of molesting Dylan and maintains that she has a videotape of Dylan describing her adopted father's unwanted attentions toward her.
State police in Connecticut, where Farrow has a country estate, reportedly have a copy of the tape and have confirmed that Allen is under investigation, although they decline to discuss any of the allegations against him.
"I believe he molested Dylan and I can say that honestly," Daisy Previn told reporters Thursday as she stood in the hallway of the family's elegant Upper West Side apartment in Manhattan. "I believe he's sick, and he could do something like that."
But Jean Doumanian, a Manhattan-based independent film producer who describes herself as a close friend of Allen's for more than 25 years, says that she finds such a charge preposterous and believes that Farrow may be putting words in her children's mouths to bolster her case in the custody battle.
Doumanian was also critical of Moses Farrow's allegations that Allen once threatened to punch out his teeth. "Do you think Woody has ever said anything like that to anybody in his life?" she asked rhetorically. "I've known him 25 years and never known him to speak harshly to anyone."
Farrow was not available for comment but Springer, her publicist, branded as absurd allegations by Soon-Yi Farrow Previn that Farrow beat her, hit her with a chair, shredded her clothing and locked her in her room after learning that she was involved in a romantic affair with Allen.
"It's inconceivable in terms of what I know about this woman," he said. "Anna Strasberg, (stage director) Lee Strasberg's widow, just the other day was comparing Mia to Mother Teresa. She's a caring, concerned mother."
But talk show host Dick Cavett, a longtime friend of Allen's, said "not for one millisecond" does he believe the allegations of sexual abuse.
"If Woody Allen's a child molester, I will publicly kiss Pat Buchanan," Cavett told reporters. "Things like this don't suddenly erupt in middle-age men."
New York Times - March 19, 1993
The findings, presented to Allen and Farrow at the hospital after a seven- month inquiry, could represent a big step toward exoneration of Allen in the eyes of the law and the public and could tilt the custody battle between the estranged lovers in his favor.
On the videotape, made by Farrow, Dylan, under questioning by her mother, tells of abuse by her father.
Farrow`s attorney, Eleanor Alter, described the Yale-New Haven team`s report as ``incomplete and inaccurate`` and said that ``what actually happened will be determined after the many witnesses testify under oath in a court of law.``
Allen, 57, had been accused of sexually abusing the child in August at Farrow`s Bridgewater, Conn., home. As part of a state police investigation of Farrow`s claims, the child-abuse specialists were brought into the case.
Despite what he said was vindication by the report, which was not made public, Allen appeared grim. ``I`m just breaking even,`` he said. ``I never did anything. I would never molest a child.``
Before leaving the hospital, Farrow said only, ``I will always stand by my children.``
Law enforcement officials have said that Frank Maco, state attorney for the Litchfield judicial district, in which Farrow`s house is situated, will rely heavily on the team`s conclusions in deciding whether to file criminal charges against Allen.
Maco could not be reached for comment. He already has a report from the state police, who investigated the sexual abuse charge and referred the case to Yale-New Haven Hospital for expert evaluation.
The report is expected to influence the custody battle between Allen and Farrow, which has raged since last summer.
``I believe this will turn everything around,`` Allen said. ``I haven`t been permitted to speak to my daughter or see her in eight months, and I think that`s going to change.``
Allen said that in the report, ``there`s a strong recommendation that Mia, herself, seek psychiatric help.``
Allen Says Report Vindicates Him
Official Findings Not Released, But Farrow Doesn't Dispute Him
Allen proclaimed his exoneration to scores of reporters in a courtyard outside the hospital's child sexual abuse clinic, where he said doctors had just briefed him and his former mate of 12 years, Mia Farrow, on a 30 to 40-page report describing the abuse allegations as untrue.
Charges of molestation were made last summer by Farrow, who is Dylan's mother. The accusations were made during an extraordinarily public and acrimonious child-custody fight.
The findings were not made public, and hospital officials would not discuss them. Farrow did not address the findings, but her lawyer, Eleanor Alter, criticized them as "incomplete and inaccurate." She said the experts refused to interview people with important information about the complaint, including Farrow's older children and a so-called "witness to part of the abuse."
Farrow has said the abuse occurred at her house in Bridgewater, and had filed a complaint with Connecticut State Police. The experts at the Yale clinic became involved in the investigation at the request of state police and Litchfield County State's Attorney Frank Maco, who ultimately will decide whether to prosecute Allen on Farrow's complaint.
The report was prepared after the experts, led by clinic director Dr. John Leventhal, met repeatedly with Allen, Farrow and Dylan beginning last fall.
Both Allen and Farrow arrived at the New Haven clinic Thursday around 1 p.m. Allen said the meeting was restrained and unremarkable.
Copies of the report also were delivered to state police, Maco and to two psychiatrists who are treating Dylan in Manhattan.
During an impromptu press conference after the 90-minute briefing, Allen said the psychiatrists' report found that, "I never ever used my daughter, that no sexual abuse took place."
Farrow said only: "I just want to say that I'll always stand by my children."
Farrow, 47, and Allen, 57, have one biological child, Satchel, 5, and two adopted children, Moses, 14, and Dylan. Farrow also has eight other children, some adopted and some biological. Although Farrow and Allen maintained separate apartments on opposite sides of New York's Central Park, they were romantically involved and their relationship was hungrily chronicled by the New York tabloids.
That relationship exploded in August, when Allen announced that he had fallen out of love with Farrow and into love with her 22-year-old daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, whom Farrow adopted while married to composer-conductor Andre Previn. The abuse allegation became public at the same time.
Since summer, Allen and Farrow have been swapping accusations about who is less fit to be a parent. Farrow moved to void Allen's adoption of Moses and Dylan on grounds of fraud because, she said, he did not disclose his "virtually incestuous relationship with their sister."
Armed with the report that he says clears him of wrongdoing, Allen says he will immediately go to court in Manhattan to seek custody of Dylan and his other children. Questions about custody of the children had been delayed pending completion of the Yale report.
Although complete details of the report were not released, a source who is close to Allen and is familiar with its contents said the report concludes that Dylan's descriptions of the abuse were fabricated. The source, who did not want to be identified, said Dylan was either programmed to make the allegations or fabricated them under stress induced by her parents' explosive breakup and Allen's romantic relationship with her older sister.
Outside the clinic Thursday, Allen said the report concludes in part that Farrow needs therapy. He also criticized as "doctored" a videotape Farrow made. On the videotape, Dylan describes the abuse she allegedly suffered at Allen's hands.
The source close to Allen, who has seen the videotape, said Dylan describes the abuse with words that a child would not normally use and looks up at the camera as if for approval after making the allegations.
Allen said Thursday that police and psychiatric experts he hired to examine the videotape have said it may be a fraud.
"Now I feel that Eleanor [Alter] and Mia are going to have to squirm to get out of this," Allen said. "A terrible, terrible crime has been committed against my daughter," he said.
"My daughter is a virtual prisoner in her house. Her statements might have been the result of stress. Or she may have been programmed. The videotape was fraudulent from the start. The tape has been doctored," Allen said.
Although the Yale report would seem to support Allen's claims of innocence, he still must be cleared by the state police and Maco, who have been investigating the case for nearly eight months.
Both Maco and state police spokesman Sgt. Scott O'Mara said Thursday that the report will be part of the evidence they consider in deciding whether to prosecute Allen on sexual abuse charges.
Police and Maco said examinations such as the one of Dylan by the Yale experts are routine parts of child sexual abuse investigations in Connecticut. The Yale clinic was selected because of its expertise in the field, Maco said.
Maco said he asked the clinic to examine two questions: whether there are impediments to Dylan's perception that could influence memory or other mental functions, and to what degree the child would be further traumatized by possible prosecution of her father.
Maco refused to discuss the case further, including how close he is to completing it
By JOHN J. GOLDMAN
Los Angeles Times - March 19, 1993
"The conclusion is no molestation, no sexual abuse ever took place," Allen said at a news conference in a courtyard of the Yale-New Haven Hospital. "There is a strong recommendation that Mia herself seek psychiatric help."
"I just want to say that I will always stand by my children," she said.
Allen, 57, and his former leading lady ended their 12-year relationship explosively last summer when he disclosed that he was romantically involved with Farrow's 22-year-old adopted daughter.
In addition to the child molestation dispute, Allen and Farrow are engaged in an angry custody battle over their 4-year-old biological son, Satchel; adopted daughter, Dylan, and adopted son, Moses, 14.
Farrow charged that Allen molested Dylan at the actress' home in Bridgewater, Conn., last summer.
Farrow's lawyer, Eleanor Alter, quickly disparaged the lengthy report that was relayed jointly to both Allen and Farrow during a conference at the hospital that lasted more than three hours.
The report is "incomplete and inaccurate," Alter said, charging that the hospital team had "declined to meet with people whose information would have been vitally important to their findings."
"Dylan has been consistent in the description of abuse and Miss Farrow will continue to support her," the lawyer added.
Allen's lawyers said the ruling strengthened his side in his custody battle with Farrow. Allen said he intended to seek custody of Dylan and his other children immediately.
The report also probably headed off any possible indictment by Connecticut prosecutors, who had ordered the special team to try to determine if child abuse had taken place.
The report was compiled by Dr. John Leventhal, a pediatrician and director of the child sexual abuse clinic at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and two clinical social workers trained to detect child sexual abuse. Leventhal had met with Allen, Farrow and Dylan since Thanksgiving.
Farrow's lawyers have moved to void Allen's adoptions of Moses and Dylan on grounds of fraud because he failed to disclose his "virtually incestuous relationship with their sister"--Soon-Yi Farrow Previn, one of the actress' adopted daughters from her former marriage to conductor Andre Previn.
Allen charged that Farrow had "doctored" a videotape she made of Dylan making the allegations of child abuse and had made 10 copies of the tape to distribute.
Orlando Sentinel - March 21, 1993
NEW YORK — Woody Allen says he avoided visiting playgrounds and toy stores or watching children's shows while child-abuse allegations against him were investigated because any connection to children was too painful. ''When I saw a father on the street with his child, it sent a pang through me. Physical pain,'' today's Daily News quoted him as saying. Allen announced Thursday that a team of sexual abuse experts had exonerated him of accusations brought by his former lover, actress Mia Farrow, that he had molested their 7-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan. The Connecticut state attorney, who will decide whether to prosecute Allen, said Friday that Farrow was acting as a concerned mother when she accused Allen. Allen and Farrow are involved in a bitter custody dispute over Dylan, their biological son, Satchel, and another adopted child, Moses.
By John Goldman
Los Angeles Times - March 27, 1993
Farrow has been married twice--to conductor Andre Previn and singer Frank Sinatra.
During a day when Allen's lawyers sought to suggest that she held child abuse allegations over the actor's head in an effort to obtain a better custody settlement, Farrow acknowledged telling a therapist about the threat to Allen.
"It was a joke," Farrow added.
Farrow and Allen had a 12-year relationship but never married.
After she learned that Allen was having an affair with Soon-Yi Farrow Previn, the 22-year-old daughter she adopted with Previn, the actress said that in her struggle to maintain her "moral roots" she read "The Trojan Women" by Euripides, identifying with Hecuba, who puts out the eyes of King Polymestor of Thrace.
Farrow's lawyer, Eleanor Alter, asked if she saw Allen as the blinded king and if it was a threat.
"No, definitely not," Farrow replied. "He (Allen) would have had bodyguards--hundreds of them--if I had really threatened him."
Farrow also testified that Dylan, the 7-year-old daughter she adopted with Allen, raised a second claim of sexual abuse against the actor about 10 days before a panel of experts in New Haven, Conn., cleared him of an initial allegation that he had molested the child during a visit to her summer home in Bridgewater, Conn., last August.
The panel issued its report last week.
"She told me another story . . . ," Farrow said, introducing in intimate detail a charge that Allen had inappropriately touched Dylan while the youngster was on a bunk bed ladder.
"I reported it to her psychiatrist," Farrow said.
The actress also said Dylan denied that Allen had molested her in the first place, just before they went to an appointment with the panel of physicians and social workers investigating the initial molestation charge.
"She told me he did not do anything at all," Farrow testified, adding that she had quickly passed on that information to the evaluators and to Alter. But on the way back home, the actress continued, Dylan confessed she had fabricated the story that nothing had happened because she wanted to stay home "and watch cartoons."
Elkan Abramowitz, a lawyer for Allen who called Farrow to the stand as a hostile witness, asked Farrow a series of questions as she ended almost two days of testimony. Farrow replied that she really did not think that the filmmaker was a homosexual. She insisted that she was nervous about any of her children having contact with Allen because she was worried about child abuse.
Abramowitz asked whether, if she gained sole custody of the three children she shares with Allen, she would permit them to see their father.
Farrow said the children would have their therapists to advise them, and if they wanted to see Allen they could.
Allen and Farrow are fighting over custody of their two adopted children, Dylan and Moses, 14, and Satchel, 5, their biological son.
"Do you have a recollection of a number being thrown around, 7 or 8 million?" Abramowitz asked.
"It was done without my authority, without my knowledge," Farrow told the court.
By Andrew Gottesman
Chicago Tribune - April 8, 1993
Their bitter child custody hearing, reminiscent of an ongoing soap opera plot with daily charges and countercharges, is just taking place on a much larger scale and stage than other cases of a similar nature, according to several Chicago-area attorneys who specialize in family law.
Los Angeles Times - September 4, 1992
The accusations have become so fraught with overtones of sinister gamesmanship that Woody Allen, in fighting recent allegations that he molested his 7-year-old adopted daughter, turned around and charged his accuser, Mia Farrow, of playing "the child abuse card."
But such high-stakes charges, while sometimes substantiated, are also complicated by both honest and hate-fueled misperceptions, torn loyalties of children and lack of evidence. Many experts say judges have become more skeptical, that the charges can backfire on the accuser and -- whether true or false -- can cause lifelong emotional damage to the children involved.
Social awareness and mandatory reporting have increased estimates of the incidence of sexual abuse in the United States from 1.87 per 10,000 children in 1978 to 15.88 per 10,000 in 1984. At the same time, charges of molestation in custody and visitation disputes have also risen, although researchers say they represent only about 2 percent of the total divorce cases.
Nevertheless, "They assume a dimension far beyond their numbers," said Hugh McIsaac, manager of Family Court Services in Los Angeles County Superior Court's Conciliation Court. "They are very emotional. They take a lot of time. It is very damaging to kids to be in that situation where allegations made are not true and, obviously, very damaging when they are true."
Contrary to popular belief, custody-related molestation charges are no less valid than charges leveled by the general population, said sociologist Nancy Thoennes, of the Center for Policy Research in Denver. Her 1987 study of 169 cases involving allegations of sexual abuse in custody disputes in eight jurisdictions found that about half appeared to involve some abuse, which is similar to the population at large.
Researchers say many charges are based on a misperception of non-sexual behavior.
For instance, "a young child can report 'Daddy took a shower with me.' " said therapist Jay Lebow with Chicago Child Custody Consultants. "Given you have a mind-set that says, 'I think this person has gone crazy and is doing all sorts of abnormal things,' you can digest this information as being a statement of abuse when in fact it is only suggesting what might be very normal behavior. Or Dad sleeps with a 7-year-old daughter during visitation. It's inappropriate, but not abuse."
While the vast majority of those accused of child sexual abuse are men, it is believed that ex-husbands, new boyfriends or other male relatives make nearly as many accusations as do mothers.
"I hesitated because of the fear of being perceived as a vindictive parent," said a 33-year-old Santa Barbara, Calif., father of two who reported his brother-in-law to Child Protective Services in the midst of a custody battle. His children, ages 3 and 4, had repeatedly talked about mutual touching of genitals while taking baths with their uncle. "You don't want to believe this," he said. "But you have to do it. They're your kids and they're so small."
Evaluators admit that the science of assessing child sexual abuse is far from refined.
According to Sacramento, Calif., psychologist Herbert N. Weissman, there are no generally accepted profiles of victims nor abusers. A large percentage of children who have been molested may exhibit no symptoms at all, while unmolested children may have symptoms that can be misattributed to sexual abuse. Other recognized symptoms, such as fear, anxiety, depression, anger, withdrawal, sexual preoccupation and school or sleep difficulties can be traced to normal development. In some cases, the children are imitating behavior of adults they've seen at home or on television.
Because children can be stimulated by the repeated questioning of psychologists, police and lawyers, some experts even suggest videotaping a child's early testimony, as did Ms. Farrow, to avoid the trauma as well as the distortions that the process can produce.
"I think it ruins them for life," said researcher Ralph Underwager, director of the Institute for Psychological Therapies in Northfield, Minn.
"You have taught an innocent child about all manner of explicit and frequently deviant sexual behavior."
Most observers agree that the system is a mess -- either for not protecting children enough, or by trying too hard to lay blame.
"The unspoken tragedy is how public this is and how damaging," Mr. McIsaac said.
He believes the Farrow-Allen dispute cries for mediation, not court proceedings. "It's an interesting story, but think of the damage it's doing to these children. Thirty years from now they will be known as 'the Woody Allen children' and will bear the label for the rest of their lives.
"That in itself is probably the greatest child abuse."
By John J. Goldman
Los Angeles Times - December 16, 1992
Mia Farrow, Allen's estranged longtime companion, was not present during the sometimes acrimonious hearing on custody motions in New York State Supreme Court.
Friends of Allen said the therapist drew her conclusion after viewing the videotape and after conducting sessions with the child. Investigators in Connecticut, where the incident allegedly occurred last August, have asked for the psychologist's notes, these sources said.
Lawyers for Farrow contend that the therapist was discharged because Allen was paying her fees and part of her plane fare to return from a European vacation to resume treating the child after the allegations were made.
Allen's lawyers in court Tuesday labeled that reason "a ruse."
Farrow and Allen ended their relationship last summer after a dozen years together. They are engaged in a bitter custody battle over Satchel, their 4-year-old biological son, Dylan and Moses, 14, two children whom Allen adopted with Farrow last December.
Farrow's lawyers charged in court Tuesday that hotel and phone records in their possession show that at the time of the adoption, Allen was having an affair with Soon-Yi Farrow Previn, 21, one of Farrow's adopted daughters from her former marriage to conductor Andre Previn.
Allen denied this at a news conference after the hearing.
Standing in the glare of television lights at the courthouse, he was asked if he would have taken up with Soon-Yi if he knew all this was going to happen.
"If I had known this, I would never have taken Mia to that first lunch years ago," he replied with a small smile.
After hearing arguments for more than an hour, State Supreme Court Judge Elliott Wilk ruled on a number of motions. The judge permitted Allen to send holiday gifts to the children and a birthday present to Satchel, who will be 5 next week. But he prohibited Allen from going to Dylan's school and from seeking to have Dylan receive psychiatric help.
Allen's appearance in court was unexpected. Only days earlier, family friends had stressed that the hearing would be routine and that he would not attend.
However, he walked into the courtroom and found a seat among surprised reporters in the second row of the gallery.
"I have never been in a courtroom before, except when I made a movie," he said before the hearing.
As lawyers for both sides argued, Allen leaned forward in his seat, listening intently with his arms folded across his chest or resting his chin in his hand. Once the hearing started, he seemed oblivious to the journalists around him.
"I am genuinely happy. My goal is to be reunited with my children as rapidly as possible," he said. The director said he hoped authorities in Connecticut would finish their inquiry "as rapidly as possible."
Connecticut State Police officials are looking into whether Allen sexually molested Dylan during a visit to Farrow's home in the state. Allen, who has denied the accusation, has met with an official panel of two social workers and a pediatrician who are preparing a report for prosecutors. The panel has also conducted regular interviews with Dylan and others who may have knowledge of the situation.
Prosecutors are not expected to make a decision in the matter until January.
During Tuesday's hearing, Allen's lawyers argued that they should be able to see the videotape Farrow made of Dylan.
"Counsel on this side of the table are the only people who have not seen it," Martin Obten, one of Allen's lawyers, charged sarcastically. Obten said the tape had been "commercially reproduced in a video studio."
"Numerous people have seen it," he continued. "Showing this tape will damage this child permanently. Under the law, we have a right to discovery of this tape."
Woody Allen Says Report Clears Him
The findings, presented to Mr. Allen and Ms. Farrow at the hospital after a seven-month inquiry, were not made public. Ms. Farrow's lawyer, Eleanor B. Alter, did not specifically challenge the report, although she characterized it as inaccurate.
The hospital report could represent an enormous step toward exoneration of Mr. Allen in the eyes of the law and the public and could tilt the custody battle between the estranged lovers in his favor.
The investigators found that the child, Dylan O. Farrow, who is adopted, had not been molested by anyone and concluded that a videotape that had been the centerpiece of the accusation was a result of either the child's imagination or someone else's manipulation, Mr. Allen and his lawyer said.
On the videotape, made by Ms. Farrow, Dylan, under questioning by her mother, tells of abuse by her father.
At the Plaza Hotel, in the same room where he first announced his plan to sue for custody, Mr. Allen referred to Ms. Farrow as "the mother," called her "vindictive" and said she was in cahoots with officials whose "cheap scheming reeks of sleaze and deception."
Ms. Alter said later that in light of Mr. Maco's statements "we would hope that parents of other children put in contact with Woody Allen would use vigilance."
Mr. Allen was accused of sexually abusing his daughter last August at Ms. Farrow's house in Bridgewater, Conn. Six months ago, a team of investigators at Yale-New Haven Hospital concluded that no sexual abuse had taken place but said both Mr. Allen and Ms. Farrow had disturbed relations with Dylan.Ms. Alter had discounted the report, saying it was incomplete and inaccurate. Mr. Maco said he had requested the hospital study, which described Dylan as a dreamy child who "had difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality."
But he discounted its findings, saying his own review of investigative reports and medical evaluations had convinced him that he did have enough evidence to take to trial. He said there was nothing in the report from the Yale clinic "that would lead me to question the credibility of the child." He also cited the findings of the judge in the custody case, who called Mr. Allen's conduct with Dylan "grossly inappropriate."
Mr. Maco's remarks about the case were criticized by some legal scholars, who said it was an unfair attempt to have it both ways by claiming victory without taking the case to trial.
Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University Law School and an expert on legal ethics, criticized Mr. Maco, saying, "You don't declare the man guilty and then say you're not going to prosecute, leaving him to defend himself in the press."
"It's a violation of Allen's constitutional rights, in my view," Mr. Gillers said. "I can't overemphasize how remarkable this is." Attack on the Prosecutor
Mr. Allen also attacked the prosecutor. He said that if the prosectors had any hope of making a case against him stick, "the state's attorney would, with full maternal consent, proceed nonstop even if it meant putting my little girl through a meat grinder."
"Not second-rate police or judicial setbacks, not tabloid press nor those who perjure themselves nor all who rush to judgment, not the pious or hypocritical, the bigoted; I'm too tough for all of them put together and I will never abandon you to the bad guys," he said. A Celebrity Pursued
At another point in the half-hour news conference, he suggested that authorities had known from the outset that he was innocent, but pursued him because he was a celebrity and because "they disapproved of my publicized romantic relationship" with Ms. Farrow's daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. Or, he said, "Is it possible they were prejudiced against me because I'm a diehard New Yorker and Ms. Farrow a Connecticut local?"
Mr. Allen concluded his remarks by proposing that he and Ms. Farrow declare a truce "for the sake of the little children," and even tried a little flattery.
"I know you can be forgiving and quite terrific at times," he said of Ms. Farrow. "You're a first-rate actress and a beautiful woman."
At a later news conference, Ms. Farrow's lawyer, Ms. Alter, said that her client wasn't buying.
"Mr. Allen's idea of peace is for us to give up," she said.
Maco said state police investigators had drawn up an arrest warrant for Allen but he decided there was no "compelling interest" in further pursuing the sexual abuse allegations.
Later, Farrow's lawyer said her client agreed with the prosecutor's decision to spare 8-year-old Dylan from the trauma of a trial.
Farrow felt "everything that could possibly be done was done to protect the child," Eleanor Alter said at a separate news conference that Farrow did not attend.
Allen, 58, who was accused of sexually fondling Dylan in an attic at Farrow's Connecticut country house in August, 1992, said the case was dropped because "there is no chance they could possibly win."
Allen has not seen Dylan in 14 months. He read a rambling five-page statement apologizing to her for his lengthy absence.
"I want to send this message to my little girl: I'm sorry I missed your eighth birthday, but they just wouldn't let me," Allen said. "I love you, and I miss you. And don't worry--the dark forces will not prevail."
Allen called on Farrow, his former lover and co-star, to engage in a truce in their much-publicized breakup and battle for custody of their three children.
"The only prerequisite I have," Allen said in his only light moment, "is that you stop sending me bills from Alan Dershowitz." The prominent lawyer had advised Farrow.
"If the Arabs in Israel can do it, we can," Allen added.
But Farrow's attorney said Allen had other requirements, mostly that Farrow allow him immediate visitation rights to their children.
"Mr. Allen's idea of peace is for us to give up everything and he should see the children right away," Alter said.
Farrow was Allen's lover of 12 years before they split up in January, 1992, over Allen's affair with Farrow's adopted daughter, 22-year-old Soon-Yi Previn.
An ugly court fight followed for custody of Dylan and Moses, both adopted, and 5-year-old Satchel, their biological son.
By Randy Kennedy
New York Times - November 4, 1993
A criminal-justice panel in Connecticut voted unanimously yesterday to dismiss a complaint by Woody Allen against a prosecutor who had said there was "probable cause" to believe Mr. Allen had molested his 7-year-old daughter, but then declined to file charges.
The Connecticut Criminal Justice Commission, which appoints state's attorneys and can punish or dismiss them, said after four hours of deliberation that there was no evidence that the prosecutor, Frank S. Maco, the Litchfield County State's Attorney, had violated the canon of ethics for lawyers in his remarks during a news conference in September at which he announced he was dropping the charges.
Ralph Elliot, a lawyer and member of the panel, said shortly before the vote that he believed Mr. Maco had stepped over no ethical lines. "One can see a state's attorney who was attempting to let the public know and understand the bases on which he chose to exercise" his choice to prosecute, he said.
While the vote was unanimous, some on the seven-member panel qualified their decisions in statements later. A. William Mottolese, a Superior Court judge and member of the panel, called Mr. Maco's remarks "insensitive and inappropriate." He added that he thought the commission should not have limited itself to the specific complaints made by Mr. Allen. Sexual Abuse Case Dropped
Mr. Maco said he had drawn up an arrest warrant for Mr. Allen but decided not to pursue the case because he wanted to spare Dylan the trauma of a trial. He said Ms. Farrow had agreed that dropping the charges was in her daughter's best interest. When asked if he had enough evidence to convince a jury that Mr. Allen was guilty, he said: "Arguably, I do."
New York State child welfare investigators, in a letter on Oct. 7, said that they had dropped their inquiry into the charges, because they considered the accusation unfounded.
A bitter custody battle between the two ended last May when a State Supreme Court judge in Manhattan awarded Ms. Farrow custody of the couple's three children, Satchel, Moses and Dylan, now 8 years old. Mr. Allen is appealing that ruling, which included a scathing denunciation of the film maker for carrying on an affair with one of Ms. Farrow's daughters and for "grossly inappropriate" conduct with Dylan.
A second complaint filed by Mr. Allen against Mr. Maco is pending with the statewide bar counsel.
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB
Find A Case - May 12, 1994
ecided: May 12, 1994.
WOODY ALLEN, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
MARIA VILLIERS FARROW, ALSO KNOWN AS MIA FARROW, RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT.
Appeal by petitioner-appellant from a judgment of the Supreme Court, New York County (Elliott Wilk, J.) entered on July 13, 1993 which, inter alia denied his request for custody, set forth the terms of visitation, and awarded counsel fees to the respondent.
Francis T. Murphy, Presiding Judge, Joseph P. Sullivan, John Carro, Richard W. Wallach, David Ross, Justices.
In this special proceeding commenced by petitioner to obtain custody of, or increased visitation with, the infant children Moses Amadeus Farrow, Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow and Satchel Farrow, we are called upon to review the IAS Court's decision which, inter alia, awarded custody of the three children to the respondent, denied the petitioner's requests regarding visitation and awarded counsel fees to the respondent. Upon such review we conclude, for the reasons set forth below, that the determination of the IAS Court was in accordance with the best interests of these children, and accordingly, we affirm.
The petitioner and the respondent have brought themselves to this unhappy juncture primarily as a result of two recent events. These are, Mr. Allen's affair with Soon-Yi Previn and the alleged sexual abuse of Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow by Mr. Allen. While the parties had difficulties which grew during Ms. Farrow's pregnancy with Satchel, it was the discovery of the relationship between Mr. Allen and Ms. Previn that intensified Ms. Farrow's concerns about Mr. Allen's behavior toward Dylan, and resulted in the retention of counsel by both parties. While various aspects of this matter remain unclear, it is evident that each party assigns the blame for the current state of affairs to the other.
The parties' respective arguments are very clear. The petitioner maintains that he was forced to commence this proceeding in order to preserve his parental rights to the three infant children, because the respondent commenced and continues to engage in a campaign to alienate him from his children and to ultimately defeat his legal rights to them. The petitioner contends, inter alia, that the respondent seeks to accomplish her goals primarily through manipulation of the children's perceptions of him. He wishes to obtain custody, ostensibly to counteract the detrimental psychological effects the respondent's actions have had on his children, and to provide them with a more stable atmosphere in which to develop. Mr. Allen specifically denies the allegations that he sexually abused Dylan and characterizes them as part of Ms. Farrow's extreme overreaction to his admitted relationship with Ms. Previn.
The respondent maintains that the petitioner has shown no genuine parental interest in, nor any regard for, the children's welfare and that any interest he has shown has been inappropriate and even harmful. Respondent cites the fact that the petitioner has commenced and maintained an intimate sexual relationship with her daughter Soon-Yi Previn, which he has refused to curtail, despite the obvious ill effects it has had on all of the children and the especially profound effect it has had on Moses. It is also contended that petitioner has at best, an inappropriately intense interest in, and at worst, an abusive relationship with, the parties' daughter Dylan. Further, the respondent maintains that petitioner's contact with the parties' biological son, Satchel, is harmful to the child in that petitioner represents an emotional threat and has on at least one occasion threatened physical harm. Respondent contends that the petitioner's only motive in commencing this proceeding was to retaliate against the allegations of child sexual abuse made against him by Ms. Farrow.
Certain salient facts concerning both Mr. Allen's and Ms. Farrow's relationships to their children and to each other are not disputed. Review of these facts in an objective manner and the conclusions that flow from them, demonstrate that the determination of the IAS court as to both custody and visitation is amply supported by the record before this Court.
From the inception of Mr. Allen's relationship with Ms. Farrow in 1980, until a few months after the adoption of Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow on June 11, 1985, Mr. Allen wanted nothing to do with Ms. Farrow's children. Although Mr. Allen and Ms. Farrow attempted for approximately six months to have a child of their own, Mr. Allen did so apparently only after Ms. Farrow promised to assume full responsibility for the child. Following the adoption however, Mr. Allen became interested in developing a relationship with the newly adopted Dylan. While previously he rarely spent time in the respondent's apartment, after the adoption of Dylan he went to the respondent's Manhattan apartment more often, visited Ms. Farrow's Connecticut home and even accompanied the Farrow family on vacations to Europe. Allen also developed a relationship with Moses Farrow, who had been adopted by the respondent in 1980 and was seven years old at the time of Dylan's adoption. However, Allen remained distant from Farrow's other six children.
In 1986 Ms. Farrow expressed a desire to adopt another child. Mr. Allen, while not enthusiastic at the prospect of the adoption of Dylan in 1985, was much more amenable to the idea in 1986. Before the adoption could be completed Ms. Farrow became pregnant with the parties' son Satchel. While the petitioner testified that he was happy at the idea of becoming a father, the record supports the finding that Mr. Allen showed little or no interest in the pregnancy. It is not disputed that Ms. Farrow began to withdraw from Mr. Allen during the pregnancy and that afterwards she did not wish Satchel to become attached to Mr. Allen.
According to Mr. Allen, Ms. Farrow became inordinately attached to the newborn Satchel to the exclusion of the other children. He viewed this as especially harmful to Dylan and began spending more time with her, ostensibly to make up for the lack of attention shown her by Ms. Farrow after the birth of Satchel. Mr. Allen maintains that his interest in and affection for Dylan always has been paternal in nature and never sexual. The various psychiatric experts who testified or otherwise provided reports did not conclude that Allen's behavior toward Dylan prior to August of 1992 was explicitly sexual in nature. However, the clear consensus was that his interest in Dylan was abnormally intense in that he made inordinate demands on her time and focused on her to the exclusion of Satchel and Moses even when they were present.
The record demonstrates that Ms. Farrow expressed concern to Allen about his relationship with Dylan, and that Allen expressed his concern to Ms. Farrow about her relationship with Satchel. In 1990 both Dylan and Satchel were evaluated by clinical psychologists. Dr. Coates began treatment of Satchel in 1990. In April of 1991 Dylan was referred to Dr. Schultz, a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of young children with serious emotional problems.
In 1990 at about the same time that the parties were growing distant from each other and expressing their concerns about the other's relationship with their youngest children, Mr. Allen began acknowledging Farrow's daughter Soon-Yi Previn. Previously he treated Ms. Previn in the same way he treated Ms. Farrow's other children from her prior marriage, rarely even speaking to them. In September of 1991 Ms. Previn began to attend Drew College in New Jersey. In December 1991 two events coincided. Mr. Allen's adoptions of Dylan and Moses were finalized and Mr. Allen began his sexual relationship with their sister Soon-Yi Previn.
In January of 1992, Mr. Allen took the photographs of Ms. Previn, which were discovered on the mantelpiece in his apartment by Ms. Farrow and were introduced into evidence at the IAS proceeding. Mr. Allen in his trial testimony stated that he took the photos at Ms. Previn's suggestion and that he considered them erotic and not pornographic. We have viewed the photographs and do not share Mr. Allen's characterization of them. We find the fact that Mr. Allen took them at a time when he was formally assuming a legal responsibility for two of Ms. Previn's siblings to be totally unacceptable. The distinction Mr. Allen makes between Ms. Farrow's other children and Dylan, Satchel and Moses is lost on this Court. The children themselves do not draw the same distinction that Mr. Allen does. This is sadly demonstrated by the profound effect his relationship with Ms. Previn has had on the entire family. Allen's testimony that the photographs of Ms. Previn ". . . were taken, as I said before, between two consenting adults wanting to do this . . ." demonstrates a chosen ignorance of his and Ms. Previn's relationships to Ms. Farrow, his three children and Ms. Previn's other siblings. His continuation of the relationship, viewed in the best possible light, shows a distinct absence of judgment. It demonstrates to this Court Mr. Allen's tendency to place inappropriate emphasis on his own wants and needs and to minimize and even ignore those of his children. At the very minimum, it demonstrates an absence of any parenting skills.
We recognize Mr. Allen's acknowledgment of the pain his relationship with Ms. Previn has caused the family. We also note his testimony that he tried to insulate the rest of the family from the "dispute" that resulted, and tried to "deescalate the situation" by attempting to "placate" Ms. Farrow. It is true that Ms. Farrow's failure to conceal her feelings from the rest of the family and the acting out of her feelings of betrayal and anger toward Mr. Allen enhanced the effect of the situation on the rest of her family. We note though that the reasons for her behavior, however prolonged and extreme, are clearly visible in the record. On the other hand the record contains no acceptable explanation for Allen's commencement of the sexual relationship with Ms. Previn at the time he was adopting Moses and Satchel, or for the continuation of that relationship at the time he was supposedly experiencing the joys of fatherhood.
While the petitioner's testimony regarding his attempts to de-escalate the dispute and to insulate the family from it, displays a measure of concern for his three children, it is clear that he should have realized the inevitable consequences of his actions well before his relationship with Ms. Previn became intimate. Allen's various inconsistent statements to Farrow of his intentions regarding Ms. Previn and his attempt to have Dr. Schultz explain the relationship to Dylan in such a manner as to exonerate himself from any wrong doing, make it difficult for this Court to find that his expressed concern for the welfare of the family is genuine.
As we noted above, Mr. Allen maintains that Ms. Farrow's allegations concerning the sexual abuse of Dylan were fabricated by Ms. Farrow both as a result of her rage over his relationship with Ms. Previn and as part of her continued plan to alienate him from his children. However, our review of the record militates against a finding that Ms. Farrow fabricated the allegations without any basis. Unlike the court at IAS, we do not consider the conclusions reached by Doctors Coates and Schultz and by the Yale-New Haven team, to be totally unpersuasive. While the tendency of Dylan to withdraw into a fantasy and the inconsistencies in her account of the events of August 4, 1992, noted particularly by the Yale-New Haven team, must be taken into account in the evaluation of these serious allegations, the testimony given at trial by the individuals caring for the children that day, the videotape of Dylan made by Ms. Farrow the following day and the accounts of Dylan's behavior toward Mr. Allen both before and after the alleged instance of abuse, suggest that the abuse did occur. While the evidence in support of the allegations remains inconclusive, it is clear that the investigation of the charges in and of itself could not have left Dylan unaffected.
Any determination of issues of child custody or visitation must serve the best interests of the child and that which will best promote the child's welfare (Domestic Relations Law ? 70; Eschbach v Eschbach, 56 N.Y.2d 167, 171, 451 N.Y.S.2d 658, 436 N.E.2d 1260; Friederwitzer v Friederwitzer, 55 N.Y.2d 89, 93-94, 447 N.Y.S.2d 893, 432 N.E.2d 765). The existence of a prior arrangement of custody agreed upon by the parties, should be given weighty but not absolute priority in the absence of extraordinary circumstances (Matter of Nehra v Uhlar, 43 N.Y.2d 242, 251, 401 N.Y.S.2d 168, 372 N.E.2d 4). Such priority is afforded in the belief that stability in a child's life is in the child's best interests (Eschbach v Eschbach, supra, at 171). The court, however is not bound by the existence of a prior agreement and has the discretion to order changes in custody as well as other modifications when the totality of circumstances warrants its doing so in the best interests of the child (Eschbach, supra, at 172). Primary among those circumstances is the quality of the home environment and the parental guidance the custodial parent provides for the child (id.). It has long been recognized that it is often in the child's best interests to continue to live with his or her siblings (id. at 173). "While this, too, is not an absolute, the stability and companionship to be gained from keeping the children together is an important factor for the court to consider" (id.).
The weighing of the numerous factors to be considered "requires an evaluation of the testimony, character and sincerity of all of the parties involved in this type of dispute" (Eschbach, supra, at 173). "Generally, such an evaluation can best be made by the trial court, which has direct access to the parties . . . . Appellate Courts should be reluctant to substitute their own evaluation of these subjective factors for that of the nisi prius court (citations omitted), and if they do, should articulate the reasons for so doing" (id at 173-174).
It was noted by the IAS court that the psychiatric experts agreed that Mr. Allen may be able to fulfill a positive role in Dylan's therapy. We note specifically the opinion of Dr. Brodzinsky, the impartial expert called by both parties, who concluded that contact with Mr. Allen is necessary to Dylan's future development, but that initially any such visitation should be conducted in a therapeutic context. The IAS court structured that visitation accordingly and provided that a further review of Allen's visitation with Dylan would be considered after an evaluation of Dylan's progress.
Although the investigation of the abuse allegations have not resulted in a conclusive finding, all of the evidence received at trial supports the determination as to custody and visitation with respect to this child. There would be no beneficial purpose served in disturbing the custody arrangement. Moreover, even if the abuse did not occur, it is evident that there are issues concerning Mr. Allen's inappropriately intense relationship with this child that can be resolved only in a therapeutic setting. At the very least, the process of investigation itself has left the relationship between Mr. Allen and Dylan severely damaged. The consensus is that both Mr. Allen and Ms. Farrow need to be involved in the recovery process. The provision for further review of the visitation arrangement embodied in the trial court's decision adequately protects the petitioner's rights and interests at this time.
With respect to Satchel, the IAS court denied the petitioner's request for unsupervised visitation. While the court stated that it was not concerned for Satchel's physical safety, it was concerned by Mr. Allen's "demonstrated inability to understand the impact that his words and deeds have upon the emotional well being of the children". We agree. The record supports the conclusion that Mr. Allen may, if unsupervised, influence Satchel inappropriately, and disregard the impact exposure to Mr. Allen's relationship with Satchel's sister, Ms. Previn, would have on the child. His failure to understand the effect of such exposure upon Satchel as well as upon his other children is evidenced by his statement on direct examination in which he stated:
If you ask me personally, I would say the children, the children adore Soon Yi, they adore me, they would be delighted, if you asked me this personally, I would say they would be delighted and have fun with us, being taken places with us. But, I don't want to give you my amateur opinion on that. That's how I feel. And I know it counts for very little.
It has been held that the desires of the child are to be considered, but that it must be kept in mind that those desires can be manipulated (Friederwitzer v Friederwitzer, supra, at 94). In considering the custody and visitation decision concerning Moses, who is now a teenager, we cannot ignore his expressed desires. The record shows that he had a beneficial relationship with the petitioner prior to the events of December 1991. However, that relationship has been gravely damaged. While Moses' feelings were certainly affected by his mother's obvious pain and anger, we concluded that it would not be in Moses' best interests to be compelled to see Mr. Allen, if he does not wish to.
Therefore, we hold that in view of the totality of the circumstances, the best interests of these children would be served by remaining together in the custody of Ms. Farrow, with the parties abiding by the visitation schedule established by the trial court.
With respect to the award of counsel fees we note that the record demonstrates that Mr. Allen's resources far outpace those of Ms. Farrow. Additionally, we note the relative lack of merit of Mr. Allen's position in commencing this proceeding for custody. It became apparent, during oral argument, that there was serious doubt that Mr. Allen truly desired custody. It has been held that "in exercising its discretionary power to award counsel fees, a court should review the financial circumstances of both parties together with all the other circumstances of the case, which may include the relative merit of the parties' positions" (DeCabrera v Cabrera-Rosete, 70 N.Y.2d 879, 881). We find no abuse of discretion in the court's award of counsel fees in this case.
Accordingly, the judgment of Supreme Court, New York County (Elliot Wilk, J.), entered July 13, 1993, which, inter alia, denied the petitioner Woody Allen's request for custody of Moses Amadeus Farrow, Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow, and Satchel Farrow, set forth the terms of visitation between the petitioner and his children and awarded Ms. Farrow counsel fees, is affirmed in all respects, without costs.
All concur except Carro and Wallach, JJ who dissent in part in an Opinion by Carro, J.
CARRO, J. (dissenting in part)
I agree with the majority's conclusions, except for the affirmance of the order of visitation with respect to Mr. Allen's son Satchel, which I find unduly restrictive.
|Woody Allen - Alleged Sex Offender|
In contrast to what apparently is being expressed by Ms. Farrow about Mr. Allen to Satchel, Mr. Allen has been reported to say only positive things to Satchel about Ms. Farrow, and conveys only loving regards to Moses and Dylan through Satchel. Thus I find little evidence in the record to support the majority's conclusion that "Mr. Allen may, if unsupervised, influence Satchel inappropriately, and disregard the impact exposure to Mr. Allen's relationship with Satchel's sister, Ms. Previn, would have on the child."
The majority's quotation of Mr. Allen's testimony with respect to Soon-Yi in support of its conclusion respecting visitation should be viewed in the context of Dr. David Brodzinsky's testimony. Dr. Brodzinsky is an expert in adoption with considerable experience in court-related evaluations of custody and visitation disputes, who was retained by the guardian for Dylan and Moses in a pending Surrogate's Court proceeding involving the parties. Dr. Brodzinsky was thus a completely neutral expert, jointly called by Mr. Allen and Ms. Farrow, and he had extensive contact with the relevant family members and mental health professionals and reviewed the pertinent reports and transcripts prior to testifying. It was his clinical judgment that Mr. Allen had more awareness of the consequences of his actions than he was able to articulate in the adversarial process, and he was optimistic about Mr. Allen's ability to accept his share of responsibility for what had taken place in light of his love for his children, his capacity for perspective-taking and empathy, and his motivation and openness toward the ongoing therapeutic process. In addition, Dr. Susan Coates, Satchel's therapist until December 1992, and the only expert to testify about Satchel's mental health, stated that Mr. Allen's parental relationship with Satchel was essential to Satchel's healthy development.
"It is the firmly established policy of this State * * * that, wherever possible, the best interests of a child lie in his being nurtured and guided by both of his natural parents." (Daghir v Daghir, 82 A.D.2d 191, 193, 441 N.Y.S.2d 494 [MOLLEN, P.J.], affd 56 N.Y.2d 938, 453 N.Y.S.2d 609, 439 N.E.2d 324.) "Simply stated, a parent may not be deprived of his or her right to reasonable and meaningful access to the children by the marriage unless exceptional circumstances have been presented to the court * * * [i.e.] where either the exercise of such right is inimical to the welfare of the children or the parent has in some manner forfeited his or her right to such access." (Strahl v Strahl, 66 A.D.2d 571, 574, 414 N.Y.S.2d 184 [TITONE, J.P.], affd 49 N.Y.2d 1036, 429 N.Y.S.2d 635, 407 N.E.2d 479.)
I do not believe that Mr. Allen's visitation with Satchel for a mere two hours, three times a week, under supervision, is reasonable and meaningful under the circumstances, or that exceptional circumstances are presented that warrant such significant restriction on visitation with Satchel. Mr. Allen and Satchel clearly need substantial quality time together to nurture and renew their bonds and to foster a warm and loving father-son relationship. Obviously this cannot occur overnight; but more significantly, it is almost inconceivable that it will occur even over an extended period of time if visitation is limited to three two-hour periods per week under the supervision of strangers, as ordered by the trial court and affirmed by the majority. Accordingly I would modify the judgment appealed from to provide that Mr. Allen shall have unsupervised visitation with Satchel for four hours, three times weekly, plus alternate Saturdays and Sundays for the entire day, plus alternate holidays to be agreed upon by the parties (see, Cesario v Cesario, 168 A.D.2d 911, 565 N.Y.S.2d 653; Shink v Shink, 140 A.D.2d 506, 528 N.Y.S.2d 847; Armando v Armando, 114 A.D.2d 875, 495 N.Y.S.2d 192).
Motion 104 by respondent-respondent to strike portions of appellant's reply brief is denied.
Cross-Motion 229 by appellant for costs and counsel fees in responding to Motion 104 denied.
ENTER: May 12, 1994.
By Edecio Martinez
CBS News - October 2, 2009
NEW YORK –– If a truly great artist engages in a truly awful crime, should our feelings about the art mitigate our feelings about the crime?
That is just one of the gut-churning questions being asked across the Web, as people consider the predicament of Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski, sitting now in a Swiss jail and facing possible extradition to the United States for fleeing the country more than 30 years ago after he pleaded guilty in a sex case involving a 13-year-old girl.
And to many people, the answer is clear: Brilliant filmmaker or not, the man violated a young girl and needs to face justice for it.
"I wish to God he hadn't done it," said Frances Willington, a longtime Polanski fan and one of many who vented her frustrations online.
"I think he's the greatest film director of my generation," said Willington, who is British, in a follow-up interview from her home in southern France. But she was incensed by the immediate embrace of Polanski by some French cultural leaders, including the culture minister, who expressed outrage that Polanski was being "thrown to the lions."
"They're calling on people to sign a petition when this man is escaping the law!" said Willington, who works in marketing. "I don't care if he's made great films. I don't believe that cultural and artistic ability exempts you from being morally correct."
Though it was impossible to measure the balance of sentiment, on most sites there seemed to be many more postings calling for Polanski to face justice — particularly from people in the United States, but also from other countries.
Many mentioned the sordid details of the case, which have grown foggy over time but have now resurfaced for all to see.
"All you fans need to read the court transcripts on thesmokinggun.com," wrote one poster, Paul Cooper, on a Facebook page devoted to Polanski. "Roman is a pig. Read and learn."
Polanski was accused of plying the 13-year-old girl, Samantha Geimer, with champagne and Quaaludes during a modeling shoot in 1977 and raping her. He was initially indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molesting and sodomy.
He agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sexual intercourse. In exchange, the judge agreed to drop the remaining charges and commute the sentence to the 42 days already served. But Polanski fled the country Feb. 1, 1978, the day he was scheduled to be sentenced, after hearing that the judge planned to add more prison time to the sentence.
Geimer long ago identified herself, and she has joined in Polanski's bid for dismissal. She testified at the time that Polanski forced himself on her — which he acknowledged in his guilty plea — but has said she forgives him and wants the ordeal to be over.
Meanwhile, the director of "Rosemary's Baby," "Chinatown" and "The Pianist," which won him a best director Oscar, is in jail, arrested just as he arrived in Zurich to be honored at a film festival — a development that stunned his colleagues.
A petition was immediately organized calling for his release, signed by prominent fellow directors including Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Darren Aronofsky, Terry Gilliam, Jonathan Demme, Ethan Coen and David Lynch, as well as actresses Penelope Cruz and Tilda Swinton.
Actress Debra Winger, presiding over the Zurich festival jury, complained: "This fledgling festival has been unfairly exploited." She also blamed Swiss authorities for their "Philistine collusion." And producer Harvey Weinstein said in a statement: "We are calling every filmmaker we can to help fix this terrible situation." (Representatives for Winger, Demme and Allen did not respond to requests for comment, and Weinstein and Aronofsky declined.)
But it would be a mistake to assume that the American figures on the list speak for all Hollywood, said Richard Walter, a longtime industry observer and a screenwriting professor at UCLA.
"Because they're celebrities, their voices are heard much more than others," Walter said. "But there's not a shred of evidence that the majority of people in the entertainment business are sympathetic with Polanski's position."
To another observer, the support from Hollywood elite is a case of colleagues closing ranks. "This is people attempting to protect their own," said Todd Boyd, professor of popular culture at the University of Southern California.
In online postings, some people noted that Polanski's difficult past must be taken into account. He escaped the Krakow ghetto during the Holocaust, lost his mother at Auschwitz, and later in life endured the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, by followers of Charles Manson.
Other defenders said they understood why Polanski had fled the country, and noted that the victim had already forgiven Polanski.
"In a way, I don't blame Roman for fleeing," wrote Donna Mummery, 52, of Shreveport, La., on Facebook. "Let him enjoy the rest of his life now. "He's done a lot of good since that hard time in his life."
Miami filmmaker Rodrigo Diaz-McVeigh agreed, adding that Polanski has shown over the years that he is not a danger to anyone.
"He's not a threat to any child," said Diaz-McVeigh, 22. "He's gone through so much in his life. And then he went to Switzerland to do good deeds." Diaz-McVeigh called himself a Polanski fan. "I just love his films," he said.
But most people seemed to think this was the moment to separate Polanski the man from Polanski the artist — just as many did in June, when Michael Jackson died, leaving memories both of his professional greatness and his darker personal side.
"I still dance to Michael Jackson's songs," wrote commentator Susan Jane Gilman on npr.org. "Just as I buy Rolling Stones albums, watch Woody Allen films and adore Hemingway's novels. The fact that many of these artists have treated women abominably and some have been accused of molesting minors does nothing to diminish their art in my eyes."
"Great achievements should not be judged on the basis of personal conduct," she wrote from Geneva. "But nor should a person's conduct be excused by their achievements, either. At the end of the day, would we be OK with our 13-year-old daughter being drugged and raped by a 44-year-old?"