Woody Allen and Mia Farrow: Scenes From A Breakup

A storied love affair crashes in shards as Mia Farrow accuses Woody Allen of incest and child molestation. For the prurient, it was a delight; for Allen and for Farrow's motley family, a piteous desce

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It didn't stay wonderful. As New York Newsday blared in its Tuesday headline: IT'S GETTING UGLY. The Connecticut charges hit the papers, and Farrow's support team started spreading the bad news. Her friend Maria Roach released a Farrow letter, eloquent in its rage and despair: "I have spent more than a dozen years with a man who would destroy me and corrupt my daughter, leading her into a betrayal of her mother and her principles, leaving her morally bankrupt with the bond between us demolished. I can think of no crueler way to lose a child or a lover." Another adopted daughter, Lark, 18, visited the offices of the New York Post, telling of a traumatic powwow Farrow held with her older children during which Soon-Yi was told to choose between Woody and Mommy.

In addition to the lawyers advising her on the custody case, Farrow retained attorney Alan Dershowitz, who has acquired the odor of a Lamborghini ambulance chaser for his showboating defenses of the rich and heinous (Claus von Bulow, Leona Helmsley, Mike Tyson). Dershowitz contended that Allen's custody suit was "concocted" to obscure the issue of child molestation. He denied Allen's charge that Farrow, who took no alimony in her divorces from Frank Sinatra and composer-conductor Andre Previn, was demanding $7 million as a payoff to retract the child-abuse accusation. "Baloney," said Dershowitz; Farrow only "wants her family back. She wants to protect her children from Woody. She does not want him to have unrestricted visitation. Protection, not money, has been her main concern."

In midweek the Allen empire struck back. His lawyers pointed out, as Allen had, that child abuse is an issue often spuriously raised in custody cases and that the filmmaker had passed a polygraph test on the issue of molesting his kids. Farrow had recently adopted Tam, a blind Vietnamese girl, and Isaiah, a crack baby. "To bring all these children with various disabilities and other factors into the family is of great concern to him," said one of Allen's attorneys, Harvey Sladkus, painting his client as more concerned for the young children's welfare than Farrow was.

Friends and family rushed to defend Allen and attack Farrow. The day after she allegedly learned of her child's molestation, she made a date with the costume designer of Allen's next film -- not the behavior of a woman who believed her ex-lover and director to have preyed on her daughter. Farrow was a daft and brutal mother, the Allen camp said: she beat Soon-Yi and tore up her clothes in anger at the girl's affair. They whispered, as Soon-Yi finally said publicly, that the other children had fallen into "theft, alcohol, arrests, severe truancy and other symptoms."

Allen's sister, Letty Aronson, a vice president at Manhattan's Museum of Television and Radio, catalogs Farrow's sins: "Mia adopts children in a manic nature -- not for their needs but for hers. She favors her biological children while treating the older adopted kids as servants. I think Mia always had a grand plan to meet Woody, have a relationship with him, be in his films and eventually have his child. Once she did, things began to deteriorate. But even after she knew about Woody's affair, she still wanted to continue her relationship. If he gave up Soon-Yi, Mia would make the children accessible and drop the charges. She'd even want him back."

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