Dylan Farrow has for the first time offered a detailed account of the abuse she says she suffered at the hands of Woody Allen when she was seven years old, the trauma she suffered for years afterwards and still suffers now, and the fury she feels towards Hollywood and actors who turn a “blind eye”.
Ms Farrow, who is now married and living under a different name in Florida, was provoked into resurrecting her claims by the renewed feting of the filmmaker, notably with the lifetime achievement award bestowed by the Golden Globes last month and the three Oscar nominations for his latest release, Blue Jasmine starring Cate Blanchett.
Her anguish comes in a letter to Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist, published at the weekend on his blog. Neither Mr Allen nor Mia Farrow, who adopted Dylan before the couple’s rancorous 1992 break-up, had commented on the letter last night. Mr Allen, who at the time had become involved with - and later married - Soon-Yi Previn, who was also an adopted daughter of Ms Farrow, has consistently maintained his innocence and was never charged.
“I was thinking, if I don’t speak out, I’ll regret it on my death bed,” Ms Farrow writes, describing years of torment including eating disorders and self-harm. “That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls.”
She stops short of identifying the exact nature of the abuse she said she suffered at the Farrow-Allen home in Connecticut. But her version of events is nonetheless chilling. “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. 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.”
“For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like. I didn’t like how often he would take me away from my mom, siblings and friends to be alone with him. I didn’t like it when he would stick his thumb in my mouth. I didn’t like it when I had to get in bed with him under the sheets when he was in his underwear. I didn’t like it when he would place his head in my naked lap and breathe in and breathe out.”
The letter will cast a chill over the awards season, not least because of the despair she expresses with Hollywood. “All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, ‘who can say what happened,’ to pretend that nothing was wrong. Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face – on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television – I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart.”
Ms Farrow even names actors who have worked with Mr Allen in the 20 years since the claims first surfaced, including the stars of Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett, Louis CK, Alec Baldwin and Diane Keaton who accepted the Golden Globes award on the director’s behalf.
“What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? … Or you, Scarlett Johansson?” Ms Farrow asks. “You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?”