In August 1992, Allen sued Farrow for sole custody of their three children together — Moses, Dylan and Ronan, born Satchel — amid two investigations into Dylan’s accusations. One was conducted by New York City’s child welfare administration and the other by Connecticut State Police, as the allegations stemmed from Allen’s visit to the Farrow family home in the nearby state.
The documentarians say they pored through boxes of police files, affidavits, sworn testimonies and audio and visual recordings throughout their three-year examination of the case. Some have been made public before, while others might be new to “Allen v. Farrow” viewers.
Here are several takeaways from the third episode.
Allen accused Farrow of concocting the allegations and ‘brainwashing’ Dylan
In a recent statement referring to the HBO docuseries as a “hatchet job riddled with falsehoods,” a spokesperson for Allen and Previn described Dylan’s allegations as “categorically false” and noted that “multiple agencies investigated them at the time and found that, whatever Dylan Farrow may have been led to believe, absolutely no abuse had ever taken place.”
The suggestion that Dylan was “led to believe” Allen assaulted her dates back to the immediate aftermath of the alleged incident, which took place the summer of 1992. Allen held a news conference in August professing his love for Previn, a move Farrow family friend Priscilla Gilman attributes in the series to a desire to paint Farrow as “a woman scorned.” Soon afterward, Allen appeared in an episode of “60 Minutes” and said he believed Dylan reported the abuse after being “coached … by Mia.”
At the time, Farrow declined to speak to reporters the way Allen did. She adds in the series that she “didn’t feel it was seemly to get into a public fight with him.”
The Yale-New Haven Hospital report supporting Allen was probably flawed
Commissioned by Connecticut state prosecutor Frank Maco, social workers from the hospital’s child sexual abuse clinic spoke with Dylan nine times over a three-month period. Experts interviewed in the series describe this as an unusually high number. Sunny Hostin, a former federal prosecutor who now co-hosts “The View,” says you should “interview the child the least amount of times as possible, so as not to retraumatize” them.
The Yale-New Haven social workers also destroyed their notes after the report was released, which child abuse expert Michelle Peterson says “never, ever, ever” happens during a forensic evaluation.
The clinic noted “inconsistencies in Dylan’s statements” to Maco and reported she had “difficulties distinguishing fantasy and reality” (which forensic psychiatrist Stephen P. Herman, an expert witness for Farrow, went on to refute). The report also insinuated Farrow had fabricated the incident, which Maco, appearing in the series, says he disagreed with. He also criticizes the hospital’s decision to inform both parents of the report without first consulting with him, as well as its allowing Allen to publicly announce the results on the hospital steps.
“Why do you call the accused and have a press conference on the steps of the hospital to ‘clear him,’ when you don’t give it to the state attorney to do that?” asks Maureen Orth, who reported on the case for Vanity Fair. “He was the one who commissioned them. It wasn’t their purview to do that.”
The series finds fault with the New York City investigation, as well
A lawyer for Paul Williams, Dylan’s case worker within the city’s child welfare administration, says in the series that there was “clearly a strong political climate to shut this thing down” given how the city benefited from Allen’s New York-centric filmmaking. Williams had been in contact with Jennifer Sawyer, one of the Yale-New Haven social workers, whose later-destroyed notes stated she found Dylan credible and was “of the opinion that the child had more to disclose.” Williams was eventually removed from the investigation, which his lawyer describes as a “coverup attempt.”
Allen sued Farrow for sole custody within a week of finding out he was being investigated. He began to tape their phone calls, though he denies doing so in audio from a call included in the series.
All eyes were on the New York custody battle
Peter Marks, theater critic for The Washington Post, worked as a New York Times reporter during the trial and remembers journalists “all exchanging sidelong glances” when a babysitter watching over the Farrow children recalled encountering Allen with his face in Dylan’s crotch.
“There seems no reasonable way to look at that behavior as anything but troubled,” Marks says in the series.
Another Times reporter, William Grimes, describes Allen as a “frightened, defensive creature who was out of his element.” Grimes adds that throughout the trial, more so than Allen’s love for the children he sought custody over, reporters got a sense of “his anger with Mia Farrow.”
The judge deemed Allen’s behavior toward Dylan ‘grossly inappropriate’
Elliott Wilk, the New York state judge who presided over the 10-month custody battle, eventually denied Allen custody of the three children. In a ruling Marks calls “scathing,” Wilks stated that Allen hadn’t demonstrated capable parenting skills and that there was “no credible evidence” to support the claim that Farrow had coached Dylan. Wilks described Allen’s behavior toward his daughter as “grossly inappropriate” and barred him from visiting her for at least six months.
Allen was granted supervised visits with Satchel, then still a small child, and 15-year-old Moses was allowed to decide for himself whether he wanted to see his father.
Wilks also discredited the Yale-New Haven report due to the “unavailability of the notes, together with their unwillingness to testify at this trial.” Though Allen appealed the decision, an appellate court upheld Wilk’s ruling and a court of appeals declined to hear the case.