Woody Allen has struck back at his adopted daughter's claim he sexually abused her as a child, saying she was manipulated into making false charges by his "vindictive" former partner Mia Farrow.
The film director denied the allegations made by Dylan Farrow, his 28-year-old estranged daughter, that he molested her in an attic of her family home when she was seven. "Of course I did not molest Dylan," Allen wrote in a 1,858-word open letter to The New York Times. "I loved her and hope one day she will grasp how she has been cheated out of having a loving father and exploited by a mother more interested in her own festering anger than her daughter's well-being."
The 78 year-old said the letter would be his "final word" on the alleged 1992 incident, which has hung over his reputation for two decades despite his being neither convicted nor charged.
The accusations against Allen resurfaced last week after Dylan wrote - also in The New York Times - her first detailed account of the allegations. She said that Allen, who had adopted her with Mia Farrow, "took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic" at her mother's home in Connecticut in August 1992. "He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother's electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me," she said. "He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we'd go to Paris and I'd be a star in his movies."
Mia Farrow first made the claims public in 1993 during a bitter separation after she discovered Allen had nude pictures of her other adopted daughter Soon Yi-Previn. Allen and Previn married in 1997 and have two adopted daughters of their own. Allen said he dismissed the 1993 accusations because "the self-serving transparency of [Mia Farrow's] malevolence seemed so obvious".
He accused Farrow of coaching Dylan and her other children to believe that he was a child abuser. "If from the age of seven a vulnerable child is taught by a strong mother to hate her father because he is a monster who abused her, is it so inconceivable that after many years of this indoctrination the image of me Mia wanted to establish had taken root?"
Allen, who is famed for playing characters plagued by neuroses, added that he would never go into the attic because "I'm a major claustrophobe". He said Mia Farrow had fabricated the idea from the song With My Daddy In the Attic, which was written by the singer Dory Previn. Previn's husband left her for Ms Farrow after an affair.
Allen also addressed Mia Farrow's claim that Ronan Farrow, their only biological child, might in fact be the product of an affair with her first husband, Frank Sinatra. Allen conceded that his estranged son "looks a lot like Frank with the blue eyes and facial features" but did not come to a definitive conclusion. He said that if the claim was true, then "Mia lied under oath and falsely represented Ronan as our son" during their custody battle.
Ronan Farrow, now 26, is an American television host and a former adviser to Hillary Clinton at the US State Department. He has repeatedly lambasted Allen to his more than 200,000 Twitter followers. However, Moses Farrow, another adopted son of Mr Allen, has said he believes his father is innocent. The claims and counter-claims between Allen and his daughter played out in the comment pages of The New York Times, which has long chronicled the complex personal life of one of New York's most famous residents.
Underneath the Oscar winner's article was the understated description: "Woody Allen is a filmmaker in New York City". Allen is believed to have written his letter on an old typewriter, as he does with all his film scripts, before giving it to an assistant to type up on a computer.
Dylan Farrow said she was prompted to make her allegations public after Allen was nominated for another Oscar for his latest film, Blue Jasmine, and given a lifetime achievement award during January's Golden Globes. "That torment was made worse by Hollywood," she wrote. "All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, 'who can say what happened', and to pretend that nothing was wrong."