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Woody Allen, Moses Farrow, and the Mystery of the Electric Train Set

No sooner had I reported that Roman Polanski’s latest film An Officer and a Spy would not be distributed in the UK by this country’s principal distributors of foreign-language films, presumably out of sheer terror of the #MeToo movement, than US publishers Hachette announced that they would be publishing Woody Allen’s memoir, Apropos of Nothing, in April. Bravo, I thought! What courage in the eye of the storm! After all, most New York publishers had already declined to buy Allen’s manuscript for the very reason that they too feared offending the commissars of #MeToo. But within a couple of days of making the announcement Hachette had a staff rebellion on its hands. Instead of doing the right thing, which would have been to fire any member of staff who refused to do their job, Hachette simply caved in to the pressure.

Another week, another act of de facto censorship… But bestselling author Stephen King tweeted his unease about the decision on Friday. “It’s not him; I don’t give a damn about Mr Allen. It’s who gets muzzled next that worries me.” And on the Observer website Jo Glanville, a former director of English PEN and former editor of Index on Censorship, expressed a similar anxiety: “I am always afraid when a mob, however small and well-read, exercises power without any accountability, process or redress. That frightens me much more than the prospect of Woody Allen’s autobiography hitting the bookstores.”

In case you’ve forgotten the background to all this, back in 1992 the film director Woody Allen fell in love with Soon-Yi Previn, the 21-year-old daughter of actress Mia Farrow and orchestral conductor André Previn. Since Woody was in a relationship with Mia at the time, Mia was understandably furious. A vicious divorce and custody battle ensued, in which Mia won custody of the three children she shared with Woody, one biological child called Satchel and two adopted children, Moses (a boy) and Dylan (a girl). During the custody battle, Mia claimed that Woody molested seven-year-old Dylan while visiting the children in Mia’s Connecticut home, something which he vehemently denied. 

This sorry tale re-emerged in a 2014 Vanity Fair article in which Dylan Farrow, now an adult, re-iterated the accusation that Woody had molested her, but in a thorough and forensic article for online newspaper the Daily Beast, Robert Weide, director of the two-part PBS special Woody Allen: A Documentary, explained how two state agencies had found no grounds for prosecuting Allen for child abuse.

Then again, in 2017, when Kate Winslet was nominated for a Best actress Oscar for her role in Woody Allen’s film Wonder Wheel, Dylan revived her accusation yet again. Meanwhile, her brother Satchel, having changed his name to Ronan, had become a broadcaster, investigative reporter, and a champion of the #MeToo movement, whose mantra is that women who claim to have been raped or sexually assaulted must not only be heard but must also be believed – without question.

Which brings us to the current fiasco. For not only was Hachette, albeit briefly last week, Woody Allen’s would-be publisher, but also, as of last October, the actual publisher of Ronan Farrow’s book Catch and Kill, about the conspiracy to cover up Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s rapes and sexual assaults. Ronan, who has always sided with his sister and mother in the notorious family dispute, reacted with high dudgeon. “Hachette did not fact check the Woody Allen book,” he tweeted. “My sister Dylan has never been contacted to respond to any denial or mischaracterisation of the abuse she suffered at the hands of Woody Allen – a credible allegation, maintained for almost three decades, backed up by contemporaneous facts and evidence.”

Despite his telegenic good looks, Dylan Farrow thus emerges as one of woke culture’s nastier witchfinder-generals. At least with Harvey Weinstein, there was a demonstrable pattern of alleged criminal behaviour stretching back over three decades and encompassing numerous women. But in the case of Woody Allen, there is one alleged victim, who was seven years old at the time of a single alleged act, which was twice investigated by separate agencies in Connecticut and New York, and dismissed for lack of credible evidence.

Instead of paying heed to Ronan Farrow, who was a mere four years old when his sister was supposed to have been molested by Woody, the Hachette staff should have listened to Moses Farrow, who was 14 at the time and, as he himself has put it, was “present for everything that transpired in our house before, during, and after the alleged event”. 

In 2018, Moses, who is a professional therapist, wrote a blog in which he described in detail the protracted physical and emotional abuse he had suffered at the hands of Mia Farrow, his adoptive mother. He is estranged from her, but remains in contact with his father and Soon-Yi. Indeed, Moses believes that Dylan was coached and manipulated by Mia to such an extent that she came to believe that her appalling accusation against her father was true. Why does Moses believe this? Because this was his own experience when Mia had one day accused him of taking a tape measure and forced him to apologise to her in front of his brothers and sisters, having made him rehearse the apology several times: “That was the start of her coaching, drilling, scripting, and rehearsing – in essence, brainwashing.”

 In 2014, Dylan had apparently recalled a fresh detail about the occasion of her alleged molestation in 1992. She said that Woody had told her to play with her brother’s electric train set while he sexually assaulted her as they lay in the attic of Mia’s Connecticut house.

“It’s a precise and compelling narrative,” wrote Moses, “but there’s a major problem: there was no electric train set in that attic. There was, in fact, no way for kids to play up there, even if we had wanted to. It was an unfinished crawl space, under a steeply-angled gabled roof, with exposed nails and floorboards, billows of fiberglass insulation, filled with mousetraps and droppings and stinking of mothballs, and crammed with trunks full of hand-me-down clothes and my mother’s old wardrobes. The idea that the space could possibly have accommodated a functioning electric train set, circling around the attic, is ridiculous.”

Woody Allen and Soon-Yi have been a happily uxorious couple since 1992 and sealed their commitment by getting married in 1997. Not only that, but they were subsequently permitted to adopt two young daughters by two different US states.  

As Moses Farrow wrote in 2018: “To those who have become convinced of my father’s guilt, I ask you to consider this: In this time of #MeToo, when so many movie heavyweights have faced dozens of accusations, my father has been accused of wrongdoing only once, by an enraged ex-partner during contentious custody negotiations. During almost 60 years in the public eye, not one other person has come forward to accuse him of even behaving badly on a date, or acting inappropriately in any professional situation, let alone molesting a child. As a trained professional, I know that child molestation is a compulsive sickness and deviation that demands repetition. Dylan was alone with Woody in his apartment countless times over the years without a hint of impropriety, yet some would have you believe that at the age of 56, he suddenly decided to become a child molester in a house full of hostile people ordered to watch him like a hawk.”

All this and more is addressed by Allen in his memoir that we now shan’t be able to read. Rather than allow the public to form its own conclusions, Mia Farrow’s cabal and the not-to-be-contradicted #MeToo mob wish only that he should stand condemned in the court of public opinion, without any opportunity to defend himself. But anyone with an open and inquiring mind should read Moses Farrow’s blog in full. It is a measured and dispassionate but nonetheless chilling document:-

http://mosesfarrow.blogspot.com/2018/05/a-son-speaks-out-by-moses-farrow.html

And Bob Weide’s persuasive article can be found here:-

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-woody-allen-allegations-not-so-fast

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