Woody Allen’s adopted daughter speaks out for the first time about alleged sexual abuse

By | October 2, 2013 at 12:10 pm | 15 comments | News, TV/Movies | Tags: ,

It’s been 20 years since Vanity Fair published an incredibly in-depth feature about Woody Allen’s home life. For the piece, writer Maureen Orth conducted more than two-dozen interviews, which yielded a chilling conclusion: the iconic comedy writer, actor and director had sexually molested adopted daughter Dylan. The article outlines how Allen was not allowed to be alone with Dylan, how he would follow her around the house, how he was once caught with his head in Dylan’s lap while he was kneeling on the ground and she was sitting on a couch, how he once ran his finger up and down the “crack between her buttocks” while applying suntan lotion, and more.

At the time Allen denied all of the allegations and, in fact, sued longtime love Mia Farrow for full custody of their many children.

Today, Vanity Fair released excerpts from a new piece that will be on stands in New York and Los Angeles tomorrow and nationally on Oct. 8. In the article, also written by Orth, Dylan speaks for the first time about Allen’s alleged abuse, which you can read below.

She refuses ever to say his name. She calls her fears “crippling” and says, “I’m scared of him, his image.” Dyaln tells Orth, “I have never been asked to testify. If I could talk to the seven-year-old Dylan, I would tell her to be brave, to testify.”

According to Dylan, “There’s a lot I don’t remember, but what happened in the attic I remember. I remember what I was wearing and what I wasn’t wearing.” She tells Orth, “The things making me uncomfortable were making me think I was a bad kid, because I didn’t want to do what my elder told me to do.” The attic, she says, pushed her over the edge. “I was cracking. I had to say something. I was seven. I was doing it because I was scared. I wanted it to stop.” For all she knew, she tells Orth, “this was how fathers treated their daughters. This was normal interaction, and I was not normal for feeling uncomfortable about it.” Woody Allen’s lawyer Elkan Abramowitz says that Allen still denies the allegations of sexual abuse.

Dylan tells Orth that Allen contacted her twice by mail. The second time, during her senior year of college, a large stuffed manila envelope arrived at the school, filled with pictures of Allen with Dylan. “I should have recognized the handwriting—I didn’t. It had a fake return name: Lehman.” According to her, the accompanying letter read, “I thought you’d want some pictures of us, and I want you to know that I still think of you as my daughter, and my daughters think of you as their sister. Soon-Yi misses you.” It was signed “Your father.” Dylan wonders to Orth, “How do your daughters think of me as their sister? How does that work?” When asked about the letters, Sheila Riesel, another of Allen’s attorneys, called it a “private matter,” adding, “This is a man who loves all of his children and should be respected for that.”

What’s interesting about the coverage so far is that the mainstream press is making more of the fact that Farrow hinted her biological son Ronan may be Frank Sinatra’s and not Allen’s. The fact that Dylan has finally spoken out on the record about her memories of sexual abuse at the hands of her father, seems to be buried. I had to scroll through four pages on Google to find the first headline that mentions Dylan. I’m not saying Allen is guilty, but it always seemed incredibly odd to me that these well-researched, and expertly reported details of the allegations never followed Allen through his career in any meaningful way. I’m sure we’ll be hearing new denials from Allen’s team of lawyers soon.

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About the Author

Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor in chief of Laughspin. He launched Punchline Magazine in 2005 (which became Laughspin in the summer of 2011) with childhood friend Bill Bergmann. Dylan lives in northern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. He hopes the Shire is real.

  • J

    My question is this: Why now? Why after so many years is she now willing to come forward? It doesn’t make sense. Woody has been married and has more children, teenagers now, and there has not been any controversy or allegations. Personally, I think a lot has been fabricated by Farrow, out of anger that Woody left her for her adopted daughter. It is also possible that Dylan’s memories are also somewhat fabricated, because Mia told her things to say and believe for so long, that to Dylan they have become fact and real.
    Of course, I could be wrong. That’s just my perspective.

    • Tom Brady

      Who gets to decide how long it takes to feel comfortable talking about being molested? You? I respect that you admit that you might be wrong, but attitudes like this are what make people feel ashamed for coming out about being sexually abused.

      • J

        That was not my intention. I am simply skeptical of it because the allegations were brought forth in court 20 years ago, and no evidence was found to support any claims of sexual abuse. That is why, in this case, I am somewhat curious as to why it is now being brought about again 20 years later.
        Sexual victims should never feel ashamed. They did nothing wrong, and have no reason to feel as though they did. Victims of sexual abuse should come forward any time. But in this particular case, given no substantial evidence was produced at the time of the alleged abuse, that something just seems off that it is now resurfacing (coincidentally at a point where Woody’s success is rising again to where he was prior to the custody debacle and allegations).

        • 123go

          People who suffered sexual abuse usually don’t come forward with it until their adult years because all the time that they’re children they are told that the actions that were done upon them were “normal”. They are often convinced that if they resist, they are “bad children”. If they don’t enjoy it, they are “abnormal”, and if they ever told anyone, not only are they “bad”, but they will be judged harshly, and no one will believe them.

          These thoughts are instilled in young kids, and these thoughts remain with them for almost their entire adult lives. There is an element of shame forced on them, and that’s exactly what the predator wants. Think about how many adults feel that they need to conceal the fact that they were raped? It’s ten fold for children.

          Furthermore, whether or not she is an adult now, Allen still married his step-daughter. That is a person whom Allen acted as an authority figure, and a father figure in her life. I think that you would have to be pretty naive to think that his interest, and actions towards his step daughter only started when she was 18 and up. The very fact that Allen not only was attracted to a girl whom he had raised as a daughter since she was a child, but then acted on it shows us that he had no qualms with such moral ambiguity. Does that automatically make him a child abuser? No. Does that give us further reason to believe that a man who had no qualms with not only adultery, but also with entering a sexual relationship with a child he helped raise may also find it easier to act upon other socially deviant behaviour? Probably.

          I have no question in my mind that someone who is willing to commit theft would also be more likely to dabble in fraud, narcotics ect. They are not guaranteed, however, I really don’t doubt in my mind that there might be a high probability that Allen may have had established a relationship with Yi before she was of age. Also if that was indeed the case, we know that those who abuse children in such settings usually act upon multiple children. Can I say this for sure? No. I wasn’t there. Though I’m still more than convinced that M.J. was a child molester. Being acquitted because there isn’t enough solid proof doesn’t make someone innocent.

          What I do know is that Allen is a creep, he said that his relationship will Farrow was hollow for a long time before they separated because Farrow found explicit photos of her daughter Yi in his possession. He said that he knew he didn’t love Farrow for a long time, so why then did he stay with her? It was logically to have an excuse to stay closer to her children. That’s not an assumption, that’s common sense based on the fact he was taking naked pictures of her daughter. Knowing that, if you compare that behaviour and mind set to the profiles set around child molesters, well, it fits a little too well.

          Hey, maybe he’s innocent. Maybe M.J., and O.J. were too. Thing is, I highly doubt it. They were all found “not guilty” because of lack of convicting evidence. Not because of lack of evidence. Just saying.

  • Gus

    Not to be an apologist, but it’s probably good to look at both sides. You quote from the original story saying, “he would follow her around the house, how he was once caught with his head in Dylan’s lap while he was kneeling on the ground and she was sitting on a couch, how he once ran his finger up and down the “crack between her buttocks” while applying suntan lotion”. Each of those three things by themselves, or even together, outside the context of sexual molestation, is shocking behaviour from a father to a little kid. Following the kid around? It might not have been in a lascivious way, just making sure they don’t get into things. Head on lap? Really? That’s a crime? Could be horseplay or affection. Ran his finger up and down the crack of her butt? Sure, phrase it that way and it’s creepy. But if he’s applying sunscreen and he wasn’t lingering or caressing, it’s understandable. Was there anything truly and objectively disturbing he did?

    She didn’t even say anything concrete now. It could be that her memories were shaped by her mother’s thoughts on him. There have been many instances of suggestion informing a child’s beliefs. Again, not saying he’s innocent, but I’m not saying he’s guilty, either. Just that the evidence given isn’t a slam dunk, which is why you’re probably not seeing it elsewhere and why he’s still able to have a career.

    • Gus

      … is NOT shocking behaviour, is what I meant to write. Hmm, Freudian slip?

    • j

      there is no reason to apply sunscreen to sombody’s ass crack. -_-

    • K

      Dude, read the original Vanity Fair article before you start playing devil’s advocate. The evidence for Allen’s creepy behaviour (and there is more of it) comes from over two dozen interviews – Vanity Fair doesn’t just make shit up and risk getting sued for libel. And keep in mind the daughter herself has now confirmed the abuse. http://www.vanityfair.com/magazine/archive/1992/11/farrow199211

      • Gus

        If you don’t play devil’s advocate, you risk ruining a lot of people’s lives. That’s what courts do — look for possible other explanations and evidence. And, in fact, the courts did just that and found nothing. This was a 4-year-old commenting now as an adult. I get the point about sunscreen on someone’s ass. That does sound weird. However, I know a woman who told me her 7-year-old likes his bare bum rubbed to help him get to sleep. She asked if I thought that was unacceptable. I said yes but not because it’s inherently creepy but because of what others think or what might come out later. Imagine a breakup and the kid’s father interrogating the child looking for anything damning on the mother — “Did mommy ever touch you in private parts? Yes? Your bum?! She rubbed it gently?! Alert the media!” Then the kid gets confused as he hears it over and over and a false memory is manufactured. How much do you remember when you were four? Our memories at that age are formed from stories we hear throughout the years after the fact. Look, all I’m saying is the evidence, such that it is, is hardly conclusive and can be seen from another side. And if you’re going to convict someone in the court of public opinion based on such flimsy evidence, we all better look out.

  • ocelot93

    Allen’s attorneys have already been at work. When clicking on a link for Entertainment News, the following message was displayed:


    The page you are looking for has either moved or is no longer available, but you may be interested in the content below.
    We are sorry for the inconvenience.

    I absolutely hate Woody Allen just for this reason. What type of society does not arrest an individual for child molestation? I hope Dylan files charges against Allen, and Mia Farrow should also step up if she knows anything.

  • D

    @171a1a145d6f648b62c63e42558c2b15:disqus – Because no one else is talking about it and someone should be.

    This is so horrifying. The Soon-Yi thing was disgusting but she was much older and they’re married. THIS is just so sickening and upsetting. I absolutely think he’s guilty. Dylan probably has nothing to gain by making such terrible things up. And his past actions don’t make this so surprising. This is so heartbreaking and, again, just nauseating. Thanks for helping bring it to light, Dylan. The fact that you had to search as hard as you did and that no one has heard of this yet is really fucked up.

    • D

      The first Dylan is referring to the daughter. The second Dylan is referring to Gadino. Clarification!

  • kelci

    On a ‘site’

  • kelci

    I’m confused. Why is a serious story such as this one on a duke called laughspin

    • unfriended

      because Woody Allen was a prominent stand-up comedian and has written and directed many comedies. Laughspin covers lots of comedy news, including news about comedians.

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