On Saturday, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof published on his blog an open letter written by Dylan Farrow, the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, which describes in vivid and horrifying detail how Allen sexually assaulted Dylan Farrow since the time she was 7 years old. In chilling fashion, Farrow recalls how her abuse started and how it was unrelenting. She then talks about her difficulties growing up with almost no one believing her, a victim, and everyone loving and praising Allen, a molester.
"What's your favorite Woody Allen movie?" the letter starts. "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. 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. 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 goes on to explain Allen's relentlessness in repeatedly finding Dylan where she was hiding, so he could continue to assault her. She talks about having to recount her stories over and over again to various doctors and lawyers, many of whom thought she was lying. She writes that for years, just seeing Allen's face on a magazine or in a photo caused her to spiral into a deep panic attack that would make her just fall apart.
She finishes the letter with this powerful statement:
"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?
Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.
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?"
Allegations of abuse first surfaced in the early '90s when Allen and longtime-girlfriend Mia Farrow split up and Allen married Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of Farrow and composer/conductor André Previn. Though the issue has always remained, Allen has continuously denied any allegations. But the debate came back into the spotlight a few weeks ago when Allen received a Golden Globe award for lifetime achievement, and some wondered whether it was appropriate to honor a man who, though an undeniable arts legend, has been repeatedly accused of child molestation.
Of course, Allen should be presumed innocent until guilty, and he's never been convicted of any charges. However, this letter is the first time we've heard anything from Dylan herself. And what we did hear was terribly disturbing and absolutely vile.
In a companion post by Kristof, he talks about his correspondence with Dylan Farrow as she was writing the letter. He notes how she told him that "when she heard of the Golden Globe award being given to Allen she curled up in a ball on her bed, crying hysterically."
"I know it’s 'he said, she said,'" Dylan told Kristof. "But, to me, it's black and white, because I was there."