In the November 1997 issue of Connecticut Magazine, journalist Andy Thibault profiled Frank Maco. In the summer of 1992, Maco, the state prosecutor, was investigating the Woody Allen molestation scandal. Allen’s then-seven-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, accused her father of fingering her vagina on multiple occasions.
Although Maco ultimately dropped his investigation (he worried about putting Dylan through a potentially traumatizing trial despite the fact that she was more that willing to testify in front of her assailant), Allen’s behaviour throughout it was suspicious. Here are the most damaging details noted in the article:
1. Contrary to what 60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft asserted in his 1992 TV interview with Allen, the filmmaker was initially quite uncooperative with both Connecticut and New York police. He spent several months refusing to submit to interviews. At one point, he “tried to set preconditions” before sitting down with the Connecticut side. “One of the preconditions was that any statements made by Allen could not be used to impeach him. The state police did not comply.”
Another precondition involved having Maco witness Allen making his statement in front of law enforcement. Worried that this would needlessly complicate his possible prosecution of the case (the defense could potentially put him on the stand during a trial), Maco refused.
2. When Allen finally sat down for an interview with Connecticut police in January 1993, the session lasted almost four hours. One of the focal points was the incident in the attic. (Dylan: “He put his finger in my vagina. He made me lay on the floor all ways, on my back, on my side, my front. He kissed me all over. I didn’t like it…Daddy told me not to tell and he’d take me to Paris, but I did tell.”)
Despite first claiming he had never been up there, “[p]olice found hair fibers in the crawl space consistent with Allen’s” and even fingerprints, physical evidence that placed him at the scene of the crime but didn’t necessarily prove culpability, as one CSI expert noted in the article. Allen later conceded that not only was it possible that “he might have reached into the crawl space on occasion, either to grab one of the children or to give them a soda… it was” also “possible that [his] prints would be found there.” That said, because he kept going back and forth with his answers, the “police characterized Allen’s statements as inconsistent.”
3. At least 10 private investigators were “hired by different lawyers and subcontractors”, all of them on Allen’s payroll, to dig up dirt on Maco and the Connecticut police in order to discredit their investigation. “The private detectives included former FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration agents” who were particularly focused on “Sgt. John Mucherino, a primary investigator for Maco. They wanted to know if Mucherino was a drinker or a gambler, if he had any marital problems.” Ironically, some of the PIs were “former state cops who were friends with Mucherino.” The article doesn’t mention if they found anything useful.
4. Several Connecticut police officers believed that it was Allen’s team who started “the false rumor” that someone in law enforcement “was trying to sell a videotape of Dylan” making her accusations directly to her mother, Mia, “to the tabloid media.” A trooper was investigated by Internal Affairs over this but was cleared of any wrongdoing. However, if it’s true that the defense was responsible for this wild goose chase, the dirty tactic proved effective. As a result of the IA affair, the investigation into the abuse claims was suspended for 10 days before being reactivated. Maco told Connecticut Magazine, “About this time, I was told there was a campaign to disrupt the investigators, being orchestrated out of New York.”
5. It was Maco who “commissioned” professional experts at Yale University to put together a report examining the credibility of Dylan’s abuse claims. Furthermore, the county prosecutor specifically wanted the group “to determine whether Dylan was a viable witness who could stand up in court.” Unfortunately, they concluded that no sexual violation of Allen’s adopted daughter had taken place. However, there were several, notable problems with their findings:
i) “The Yale team used psychologists on Allen’s payroll to make mental health conclusions.”
ii) “Custody recommendations were made even though the team never saw Allen and any of the children together.”
iii) “The team refused to interview witnesses who could have corroborated the molestation claims.”
iv) “The team destroyed its notes.”
v) Dr. John Leventhal, “the only medical doctor on the team, did not interview Dylan.”
vi) “The night before Leventhal gave a statement to Farrow’s attorney, he discussed the scenario with Abramowitz, the head of Allen’s legal team, for about 30 minutes.”
vii) Leventhal aside, other members of the Yale team did interview Dylan a grand total of “nine times”, which an outside expert said was “excessive”. (“The danger is the child feels like she’s not believed if she’s asked the same question over and over.”) “For three consecutive weeks” of questioning, Dylan said Allen “violated her sexually. In several of the other sessions, she mentioned a similar type of abuse. When Dylan did not repeat the precise allegation in some of the sessions, the team reported this as an inconsistency.”
viii) “Leventhal himself later admitted” while under oath during the custody battle that among the “several mistakes” he made “was his false characterization of Dylan’s active imagination as a thought disorder” or “a fantasy problem”. He initially found her “loose associations” troubling. When Dylan talked about seeing “dead heads” in the attic, it was just a harmless reference to “a trunk” in the family “attic” where Mia “kept wigs from her movies on wig blocks”. “The magic hour” was nothing more than Mia’s fanciful way of “describ[ing] the dark sky upon leaving New Haven in the evening…” It wasn’t an example of “magical thinking” which Leventhal ultimately confessed, in sworn testimony, was a faulty conclusion.
ix) Leventhal never did determine Dylan’s fitness as a trial witness. “Regardless of what the Connecticut police wanted from us…we weren’t necessarily beholden to them. We did not assess whether she’d be a good witness in court. That’s what Mr. Maco may have been interested in, but that’s not necessarily what we were interested in.”
Is it any wonder Maco noted in the article “that enlisting Yale’s assistance was the biggest mistake he made in the case”?
“I gave their report very little weight,” he told Connecticut Magazine.
6. After announcing in September 1993 that he was dropping the investigation against Allen to spare Dylan while simultaneously asserting that the filmmaker wasn’t exactly innocent, an infuriated Allen responded with two “ethics complaint[s] against Maco with both the Statewide Grievance Committee—a lawyers’ disciplinary group—and the state Criminal Justice Commission, which hires and fires prosecutors.”
The CJC cleared Maco at the end of 1993, two months after Allen’s desperate filing. But a close SGC vote (6-5 “with two abstentions”) determined that an investigation was necessary into Maco’s actions. “The vote overturned a ruling by Maco’s local committee, which had found in his favor.” A Superior Court Judge ridiculed the overruling calling it “star-driven, sloppy and careless.” There was suspicion that the committee might have “just wanted to see Woody Allen”. Maco was offered a chance to apologize and settle with Allen but refused. “I did nothing illegal, unethical or immoral,” he told Connecticut Magazine. “I’ll go anywhere to defend that.”
In the end, according to a brief 2013 blog update published with the reposting of the original 1997 article on the official CM website, it took four years for the SGC to realize that the CJC was right all along. As a result, Rico was cleared a second time in 2001. Allen had lost both attempts to punish him for his aborted prosecution. Two years later, after more than 30 years on the job, Rico retired.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, February 12, 2014