Arts & Entertainment

Timeline: A look back at the allegations against Woody Allen

Director Woody Allen poses on the red carpet before the opening ceremony and the screening of
Director Woody Allen poses on the red carpet before the opening ceremony and the screening of "Midnight in Paris" presented out-of- competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival on May 11, 2011 in Cannes.
Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images

"Cries and Whispers: The Ugly Explosion of an Unconventional Family," announced the Aug. 31, 1992, cover of Time magazine, which bore Woody Allen's bespectacled face. The sordid saga involving Allen and erstwhile romantic partner Mia Farrow had indeed exploded into the public consciousness days earlier. The most sensational part: an allegation that the celebrated director had taken their adopted daughter Dylan, 7, into an attic-like space at Farrow's Connecticut home and molested her.

Allen vigorously denied the allegation and was never arrested or charged with a crime. Despite predictions by some that his career would falter, it hasn't. At age 78 he still puts out a movie a year, won his fourth Oscar in 2012 for "Midnight in Paris," and is nominated again this year — his 24th nod — for the "Blue Jasmine" screenplay. The two movies were his biggest commercial hits in years.

Indeed, it's his continued success that likely brought the abuse claim back into the spotlight. Allen was given a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes in January that included a glowing televised tribute. That prompted critical comments from Mia Farrow and her son Ronan Farrow. (Ronan, an emerging TV personality, is presumed to be Allen's biological son though Mia recently said he might be Frank Sinatra's son.)

Then this past weekend, Dylan Farrow, now 28, married and living in Florida, penned an emotional open letter, accusing Hollywood of callously lionizing her tormentor. The letter revived in stunning detail an allegation more than two decades old, the details of which many had forgotten. Here is a look back at key moments and players of a story that, whichever side you believe, is one of the more disturbing celebrity sagas in memory:

December 1991

Allen formally adopts two of Farrow's previously adopted children, Dylan, 7, and Moses, 13, after Farrow tells a court he's an excellent father. The couple has been together for more than a decade, though they live separately on opposite sides of Central Park.

January 1992

Visiting Allen's apartment, Farrow discovers a set of nude, explicit photos Allen has taken of her 21-year-old adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn (her father is Farrow's ex-husband, Andre Previn). The discovery precipitates their split.

February 1992

Farrow gives Allen a Valentine with a photograph of her and some of her children; a steak knife is stuck into Farrow's heart, covered with a photo of Soon-Yi, and meat skewers are stuck in the chests of the children. (The card will be displayed on CBS' "60 Minutes.")

August 1992

Amidst lengthy and bitter custody negotiations, Allen visits Farrow's Connecticut home Aug. 4. There, it will be alleged, Allen takes Dylan to an attic-like space and molests her. Farrow videotapes Dylan accusing Allen of the molestation. On Aug. 13, Allen sues Farrow in New York state court for custody of Dylan, Moses and Satchel (now Ronan). A few days later, Connecticut police confirm they're investigating the abuse allegations. On Aug. 18, Allen makes an unusual public appearance to deny them.

November 1992

In Vanity Fair magazine, author Maureen Orth presents Mia Farrow's side of the story. Dylan, she reports, told her mother that Allen told her during the episode that "if she stayed very still he would put her in his movie and take her to Paris. He touched her 'private part.'" Allen appears on "60 Minutes," describing violent rages by Farrow — and threats to kill him — over his affair with Soon-Yi. He also says Farrow told him weeks before the abuse allegations: "I have something very nasty planned for you."

March 1993

After a seven-month probe, a team of child-abuse specialists at Yale-New Haven Hospital concludes Dylan has not been molested. The doctor leading the probe, John M. Leventhal, will later say in a sworn statement, reported by The New York Times, that he theorized Dylan either invented the story or had it planted in her mind by her mother. A day later the custody trial opens in New York. Allen testifies he is a "wonderful father."

May 1993

The seven-week trial winds down. Among its many revelations: Moses wrote Allen a letter saying he hoped his father would kill himself. Farrow acknowledges lashing out physically at Soon-Yi. Allen's lawyers suggest Farrow tried to blackmail Allen for millions of dollars. A psychologist testifies that Farrow threatened to stab Allen's eyes out.

June 1993

Allen loses his custody battle. State Supreme Court Acting Justice Elliott Wilk denounces him as an inadequate, irresponsible and self-absorbed father. The judge says he doesn't know if the molestation happened, but bars Allen from seeing Dylan for at least six months and limits visits with other children. He also criticizes the Connecticut investigation that found no abuse.

September 1993

In Litchfield, Conn., State's Attorney Frank Maco says there was "probable cause" to charge Allen with molesting Dylan and that police had drawn up an arrest warrant, but that he decided not to pursue the case, in part because it would traumatize Dylan. At his own news conference, Allen lashes out at Farrow, police and Maco. The director, who hasn't seen Dylan in 14 months, reads her a message: "I'm sorry I missed your eighth birthday ... I love you, and I miss you, and don't worry — the dark forces will not prevail."

May 1994

Allen's appeal of the custody ruling is denied.

December 1996

A judge denies Allen's request for better visitation terms, and says Allen still doesn't understand how he's made the children suffer.

June 1997

Allen loses his bid for disciplinary action against Maco when a state panel rules that the prosecutor was acting within his rights when he announced he had evidence Allen had abused Dylan. Allen had charged that Maco's statement essentially convicted him of child abuse and prejudiced his custody fight.

December 1997

Allen marries Soon-Yi in Venice, Italy. The couple continues on to France, where the newspaper Le Monde describes the American reaction to Farrow's charges as "the outrage of a certain America, family-oriented and puritanical, against a man that didn't conform enough..." Allen and Soon-Yi will go on to adopt two daughters, Bechet and Manzie.

February 2012

Allen wins his fourth Oscar for "Midnight in Paris."

October 2013

In Vanity Fair, Dylan Farrow gives author Orth her first comments on the record, saying in part: "I have never been asked to testify. If I could talk to the seven-year-old Dylan, I would tell her to be brave, to testify."

January 2014

Allen gets the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes; as is his practice, he doesn't attend. Ronan Farrow tweets: "Did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?" Mia Farrow tweets the next day: "A woman has publicly detailed Woody Allen's molestation of her at age 7. Golden Globe tribute showed contempt for her & all abuse survivors." (Robert Weide, director and producer of a PBS documentary about Allen, notes in a widely circulated article on The Daily Beast that Farrow had specifically agreed to the use of her "Purple Rose of Cairo" clip in the Globe montage.)

February 2014

Dylan Farrow pens her open letter, which appears on the blog of New York Times columnist and Mia Farrow friend Nicholas Kristof. "Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse," she writes. Allen's publicist responds: "Mr. Allen has read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful." Two days later Mia Farrow tweets: "I love my daughter. I will always protect her. A lot of ugliness is going to be aimed at me. But this is not about me, it's about her truth."