For more than two decades, legendary Hollywood director Woody Allen has been battling allegations that he sexually abused his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow. The claims first surfaced in 1993 and they have reemerged periodically ever since.
However, on Saturday the alleged victim at the center of the case publicly wrote about it for the very first time.
In an open letter published on Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times blog, Farrow details her extremely disturbing account of what happened in a “closet-like attic” when she was only a child. It should be noted that Allen was never prosecuted and has denied any wrongdoing.
“What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me,” the open letter begins.
“He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies,” Farrow writes. “I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.”
Farrow alleges that various forms of sexual abuse occurred “so often, so routinely, so skillfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal.” She also claims her father would “use his sexual relationship with my sister to cover up the abuse he inflicted” on her.
It wasn’t until she says Allen sexually abused her in the attic that she “couldn’t keep the secret anymore.” That time it just “felt different,” she said.
“After a custody hearing denied my father visitation rights, my mother declined to pursue criminal charges, despite findings of probable cause by the State of Connecticut – due to, in the words of the prosecutor, the fragility of the ‘child victim,’” Farrow writes. “Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime.”
Because of what she went through, she claims she developed a fear of being touched by men, an eating disorder and even started cutting herself. She also wrote about how hard it was to see her “abuser’s face” all over TV as actors “praised him at awards shows” and “critics put him in magazines.”
Today, Farrow says she is “happily married” and enjoys the support of a loving family. However, other victims of sexual abuse are “still scared, vulnerable, and struggling for courage to tell the truth — because the “message that Hollywood sends matters to them,” she notes.
In the disturbing letter, Farrow also appeals directly to some of Hollywood biggest stars, including one actress who apparently knew her as a child.
“What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?” she writes.
Woody Allen, she continues, is a “living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.”
Farrow concludes her open letter on a chilling and disturbing note:
So imagine your seven-year-old daughter being led into an attic by Woody Allen. Imagine she spends a lifetime stricken with nausea at the mention of his name. Imagine a world that celebrates her tormenter.
Are you imagining that? Now, what’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?
Read the entire open letter here.