26. In denying Woody Allen custody of Dylan, Satchel and Moses, New York Supreme Court Justice Elliott Wilk noted that Allen “has demonstrated no parenting skills that would qualify him as an adequate custodian”. Despite providing money to Mia’s family, reading and telling stories to the kids, purchasing gifts for them and “oversee[ing] their breakfasts”, none of this makes up for “his absence as a meaningful source of guidance and caring in their lives. These contributions do not excuse his evident lack of familiarity with the most basic details of their day-to-day existences.”
27. Besides never bathing his kids and rarely getting them dressed, Allen’s other parental deficiencies: “[h]e knows little of Moses’ history, except that he has cerebral palsy; he does not know if he has a doctor. He does not know the name of Dylan and Satchel’s pediatrician. He does not know the names of Moses’ teachers or about his academic performance. He does not know the names of his children’s friends. He does not know the names of any of their many pets. He does not know which children shared bedrooms.” He would only attend parent-teacher events if Mia insisted he come along.
28. Allen “seldom communicated” with Mia’s children from her previous marriage to Andre Previn which, for quite a while, included Soon-Yi. “He apparently did not pay enough attention to his own children to learn from them about their brothers and sisters.”
29. “Mr. Allen characterized Ms. Farrow’s home as a foster care compound and drew distinctions between her biological and adopted children.” When Allen was “asked how he felt” about having sex with “his children’s sister”, he responded that Soon-Yi “was an adopted child and Dylan was an adopted child. He showed no understanding that the bonds developed between adopted brothers and sisters are no less worthy of respect and protection than those between biological siblings.”
30. “None of the witnesses who testified on Mr. Allen’s behalf provided credible evidence that he is an appropriate custodial parent…none would venture an opinion that he should be granted custody…even Mr. Allen could not provide an acceptable reason for a change in custody.” When his own attorney asked him point blank “why are you seeking custody of your children?”, “Mr. Allen’s response was a rambling non sequitur” that “consumed eleven pages of transcript.”
31. “Mr. Allen’s deficiencies as a custodial parent are magnified by his affair with Soon-Yi…The fact that Mr. Allen ignored Soon-Yi for ten years cannot change the nature of the family constellation and does not create a distance sufficient to convert their affair into a benign relationship between two consenting adults.”
32. “Mr. Allen admits that he never considered the consequences of his behaviour with Soon-Yi…Mr. Allen still fails to understand that what he did was wrong. Having isolated Soon-Yi from her family, he left her with no visible support system.” Justice Wilk went on to say that Allen also didn’t care how his actions affected Mia, “the Previn children for whom he cared little, or…his own children for whom he professes love.”
33. The Justice noted that Allen’s response to Dylan’s sexual abuse allegations was to “attack” Mia, “whose parenting ability and emotional stability he impugned without the support of any significant credible evidence.” Allen’s “trial strategy” was to “separate his children from their brothers and sisters; to turn the children against their mother; to divide adopted children from biological children”; to cause dissention within Mia’s group of professional household helpers and to create additional tensions between them and the family.
34. Allen’s “self-absorption, his lack of judgment and his commitment to the continuation of his divisive assault, thereby impeding the healing of the injuries that he has already caused, warrant a careful monitoring of his future contact with the children.”
35. When Allen tried to assert in testimony that Mia preferred her biological kids over her adopted ones, Justice Wilk noted, “There is no credible evidence that she unfairly distinguished among her children or that she favoured some at the expense of others.”
36. “There is no credible evidence to support Mr. Allen’s contention that Ms. Farrow coached Dylan or that Ms. Farrow acted upon a desire for revenge against him for seducing Soon-Yi. Mr. Allen’s resort to the stereotypical ‘woman scorned’ defense is an injudicious attempt to divert attention from his failure to act as a responsible parent and adult.”
37. When Mia told a shrink that she hoped Dylan was making up her abuse story, the Justice noted that this “is inconsistent with the notion of brainwashing”, which Allen asserted in testimony. Justice Wilk found it “highly unlikely” that “Ms. Farrow would have encouraged Dylan to accuse her father of having sexually molested her during a period in which Ms. Farrow believed they were in the presence of a babysitter.” The Justice went on to say that Mia wouldn’t have allowed the Connecticut Police to question Dylan “if she did not believe the possible truth of Dylan’s accusation.”
38. Justice Wilk praised Mia’s decision to regularly allow Allen to see Satchel under proper supervision, noting that she understood “the propriety of balancing Satchel’s need for contact with his father against the danger of Mr. Allen’s lack of parental judgment.”
39. “Ms. Farrow also recognizes that Mr. Allen and not Soon-Yi is the person responsible for their affair and its impact upon her family.”
40. Justice Wilk “was not persuaded the videotape of Dylan” describing her ordeal “is the product of leading questions or of the child’s fantasy.”
41. Despite believing that “it is unlikely” Allen “could be successfully prosecuted for sexual abuse”, he wasn’t persuaded “that the evidence proves conclusively that there was no sexual abuse”. Regarding the events of August 4, 1992, he was convinced that the “credible testimony” of Mia, Allen and two shrinks “prove that Mr. Allen’s behaviour toward Dylan was grossly inappropriate and that measures must be taken to protect her.”
42. Young Satchel Farrow didn’t care for Woody Allen as a young boy. Satchel “would push him away…not acknowledge him…kick him and [scratch] his face” when his father tried putting him to bed. He would also cry when Allen held him. He had the opposite reaction while in Mia’s arms. In the custody case, Allen claimed that this was because Mia made a “conscious effort to keep him apart from the child.” However, Justice Wilk disagreed: “Although Ms. Farrow consumed much of Satchel’s attention, and did not foster a relationship with his father, there is no credible evidence to suggest that she desired to exclude Mr. Allen. Mr. Allen’s attention to Dylan left him with less time and patience for Satchel.”
43. While trying to get Satchel out of bed one morning in 1991, Allen in a fit of rage “grabbed Satchel’s leg” and “started to twist it” after the boy kicked him and screamed at him to leave him alone. With Mia in the room, Allen said, “I’m going to break your fucking leg.” Mia was able to successfully separate the two before the situation escalated much further. Dylan later recounted the incident during her interview with the Connecticut Police.
44. Justice Wilk described Allen’s “interactions with Moses” as “superficial” and “more a response to” the boy’s “desire for a father…than an authentic effort to develop” an actual “relationship”. In 1984, when Moses directly asked Allen if he “would be his father”, Allen “said ‘sure’ but for years did nothing to make that a reality…There is no evidence…that Mr. Allen used any of their shared areas of interest” like music and sports, to offer two examples, “as a foundation upon which to develop a deeper relationship with his son. What little he offered…was enough to encourage Moses to dream of more, but insufficient to justify a claim for custody.”
45. Moses was so upset about Allen’s affair with Soon-Yi, he wrote down his intensely angry feelings about the betrayal in a letter he personally delivered to him. He wrote, “…you can’t force me to live with you…You have done a horrible, unforgivable, needy, ugly, stupid thing…about seeing me for lunch, you can just forget about that…we didn’t do anything wrong…All you did is spoil the little ones, Dylan and Satchel…Every one knows not to have an affair with your son’s sister…I don’t consider you my father anymore. It was great having a father, but you smashed that feeling and dream with a single act. I HOPE YOU ARE PROUD TO CRUSH YOUR SON’S DREAM.” After reading the letter, Allen decided to “wrest custody of Moses” from Mia, wrongly believing that she wrote it. Moses confirmed to a shrink that he was the sole author.
46. “The common theme of the testimony by the mental health witnesses is that Mr. Allen has inflicted serious damage on the children and that healing is necessary.” In light of Allen’s “serious parental inadequacies”, Justice Wilk ruled “it is clear that the best interests of the children will be served by their continued custody with Ms. Farrow.”
47. “What is clear is that Mr. Allen’s lack of judgment, insight and impulse control make normal noncustodial visitation with Dylan and Satchel too risky to the children’s well-being to be permitted at this time…It is unclear whether Mr. Allen will ever develop the insight and judgment necessary for him to relate to Dylan appropriately…she feels victimized by her father’s relationship with her sister…Mr. [Allen has a] demonstrated inability to understand the impact his words and deeds have upon the emotional well being of his children.”
48. Justice Wilk declared “that Mr. Allen will use Satchel…to gain information about Dylan and to insinuate himself into her good graces…that Mr. Allen will, if unsupervised, attempt to turn Satchel against the other members of his family.” He was also convinced that Allen wanted Soon-Yi to be a part of the “visitation arrangement without concern” for how this would affect the children and Mia.
49. “In short, I believe Mr. Allen to be so self-absorbed, untrustworthy and insensitive, that he should not be permitted to see Satchel without appropriate professional supervision…”
50. “Mr. Allen compounded the pain that he inflicted upon the Farrow family by bringing this frivolous petition for custody of Dylan, Satchel and Moses…Because Mr. Allen’s position had no merit, he will bear the entire financial burden of this litigation.”
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, February 9, 2014