Judge rules Woody Allen hopelessly unsuited for parenthood

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NEW YORK - Painting Woody Allen as a person hopelessly unsuited for parenthood, a New York judge yesterday denied his suit against Mia Farrow for custody of their three children, writes Peter Pringle. The ruling ended a sensational trial that exposed Allen's selfishness and Farrow's scattiness, and left the children as the victims.

Farrow, appearing relaxed for the first time since the seven-week trial, said it had been a nightmare during which her children had been 'ripped apart emotionally'. Her lawyer, Eleanor Alter, said she had found Allen's behaviour 'morally unacceptable and sexually baffling'. She complained that 'the more he talked, the worse it got'.

Reading from the court's ruling, the lawyer said Allen was judged to be 'self-absorbed, untrustworthy and insensitive', and that he had launched a 'frivolous petition of no merit'.

The judge, Elliot Wilk, explaining why he had denied Allen custody of his son, Satchel, 5, and two of Farrow's children, Dylan, 7, and Moses, 15, whom he had adopted, said the film director had demonstrated 'an inability to understand the impact his words and deeds have upon the emotional well-being of his children'. Allen was ordered to pay the costs. The judge barred him from visiting Dylan for at least six months, said by Farrow to have been molested by Allen. Independent sexual-abuse experts cleared him of that accusation. The judge ruled: 'It is unclear whether Allen will ever develop the insight and judgement necessary for him to relate to Dylan appropriately.'

The sexual abuse charges were always vehemently denied by Allen, but Farrow's lawyer said the judge's ruling implied he may never be allowed regular visits with the child. After six months he must pass a therapist's examination before he can see her, and then only with a therapist. Allen has spent many years in therapy. Farrow's lawyer observed sarcastically: 'He just looks for permission to do what he wants.'

The judge allowed Allen, who is 57, supervised visits with Satchel for two hours three times a week. He is not allowed to visit Moses unless the youth requests it - and Moses has said he does not want to see him.

Farrow and Allen split up after she found nude photos of her adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, 22, that had been taken by Allen. He later admitted he was having an affair with Soon-Yi, a South Korean adopted by Farrow and her former husband, the conductor Andre Previn. Farrow, 48, has 11 children, seven of which have been adopted.

In a separate action Farrow has asked the court to undo Allen's adoption of Moses and Dylan. She claims he defrauded her and the court by concealing he was sexually involved with Ms Previn. A hearing is due tomorrow.

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