The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Dylan Farrow: Why is Woody Allen exempt from the storm of sexual assault allegations?

Director Woody Allen at a screening of his latest movie, “Wonder Wheel,” in New York on Nov. 14, 2017. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

Woody Allen’s adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow, wants to know why.

The New York Times exposé in October alleging film producer Harvey Weinstein used his position to sexually harass and abuse aspiring young women sparked what Farrow calls a “revolution:” In the months since, dozens of prominent men in Hollywood, the media and the political sphere have resigned or been fired.

After Weinstein’s demise came that of Mark Halperin. Then came Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer. On Tuesday, Time magazine named “The Silence Breakers” as its 2017 Person of the Year, recognizing the women (and some men) who came forward with stories of sexual abuse. The magazine called them “the voices that launched a movement.”

On Thursday, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced he would resign amid several accusations that he touched women inappropriately. And Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) announced the same day he would step down after acknowledging in a statement that he discussed surrogacy with two female subordinates.

So what about Woody Allen?

In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, Farrow wondered why the filmmaker appears to be sheltered from the storm of accusations hitting others. Reports alleging Allen molested Farrow when she was a child made headlines in 1992 as part of the celebrity coverage of Allen’s split from his girlfriend, Mia Farrow. While Dylan Farrow herself first wrote about the alleged abuse in an open letter published in the New York Times in 2014, she wrote in the L.A. Times op-ed that she “told the truth to the authorities then, and I have been telling it, unaltered, for more than 20 years.”

Time’s Person of the Year: ‘The Silence Breakers’ for speaking out against sexual harassment

Farrow alleges that when she was 7 years old, Allen led her away from babysitters who had been told not to leave her alone with him and into an attic, where he sexually assaulted her. She accused him of putting his thumb in her mouth and climbing into bed with her in his underwear, and said the behavior was witnessed by friends and family members. Farrow said three eyewitnesses supported her claims, including a babysitter who saw Allen’s head buried in her lap after he had removed her underwear.

Farrow said Allen refused to take a polygraph. Although a Connecticut state’s attorney in 1993 said he had “probable cause” to prosecute Allen, he ultimately did not file charges, choosing to spare the young girl of “the trauma of a court appearance,” according to the New York Times.

“Why is it that Harvey Weinstein and other accused celebrities have been cast out by Hollywood, while Allen recently secured a multimillion-dollar distribution deal with Amazon, greenlit by former Amazon Studios executive Roy Price before he was suspended over sexual misconduct allegations?” Farrow wrote.

“It is a testament to Allen’s public relations team and his lawyers that few know these simple facts,” she wrote. “It also speaks to the forces that have historically protected men like Allen: the money and power deployed to make the simple complicated, to massage the story.”

Allen has long denied the allegations and declined to comment on the op-ed before its publication.

When the accusations first made headlines in the early 1990s, some predicted Allen’s career would collapse. In 2014, after Farrow wrote an open letter about the alleged abuse, several stars were quiet or neutral on the subject.

Allen’s latest movie, a 1950s-set drama titled “Wonder Wheel,” was released Dec. 1. It stars Kate Winslet, who told Variety in the days after the Weinstein allegations broke that the fact that women began speaking out about his sexual abuse was “incredibly brave.”

But when asked by the New York Times about the accusations against Allen, and whether she considered them before accepting the “Wonder Wheel” role, Winslet said she “didn’t know Woody and I don’t know anything about that family.”

“As the actor in the film, you just have to step away and say, I don’t know anything, really, and whether any of it is true or false,” she said. “Having thought it all through, you put it to one side and just work with the person.”

Her response fell in line with what many actors who enjoy working with Allen but who wish to separate themselves from the allegations have said.

Farrow wrote that she feels disappointed when women and men she admire work with Allen and then deflect questions about the accusations.

“It is also our collective choice to see simple situations as complicated and obvious conclusions as a matter of ‘who can say’?” she wrote.

“The system worked for Harvey Weinstein for decades. It works for Woody Allen still.”

Read more:

Taylor Swift explains her blunt testimony during her sexual assault trial

John Oliver and Stephen Colbert are asking the awkward questions about sexual misconduct