The Woody Allen Controversy Reader: (2) Debunking Maureen Orth’s “Undeniable Facts About The Woody Allen Sexual-Abuse Allegation” — Examining Allen’s Therapy For His Alleged “Inappropriate Behavior” With His Daughter

Justin Levine
17 min readSep 6, 2018

This is an excerpt of a larger and more complete essay that debunks Maureen Orth’s false and misleading article “10 Undeniable Facts About The Woody Allen Sexual-Abuse Allegation”. This particular section focuses on Orth’s second supposedly “undeniable fact” — her claim that Allen had been in therapy for “inappropriate behavior” towards his daughter.

Here is Orth’s precise contention as stated in her article:

2. Allen had been in therapy for alleged inappropriate behavior toward Dylan with a child psychologist before the abuse allegation was presented to the authorities or made public. Mia Farrow had instructed her babysitters that Allen was never to be left alone with Dylan.

There are two statements here. And with each one, Orth very disingenuously leaves out critical facts that make these observations far less ominous and incriminatory than she wants you to believe.

The critical fact about the first statement that Orth deliberately ignores is that the psychologist she refers to, Dr. Susan Coates, specifically said that the “inappropriate behavior” had nothing to do with sexual misconduct.

Coates’ exact quote on the witness stand in the custody trial between Allen and Farrow regarding Allen’s relationship with Dylan was as follows (emphasis added):

I did not see it as sexual, but I saw it as inappropriately intense because it excluded everybody else, and it placed a demand on a child for a kind of acknowledgment that I felt should not be placed on a child.”

Coates further testified that she advised Allen to stop giving the girl “excessive amounts of attention.” (See Newsday, Apr. 2, 1993, pg. 22.) It is that form of “inappropriate behavior” that was at issue, not sexually inappropriate behavior.

Coates emphatically said that she never saw Allen behaving in a sexual way towards his daughter. (It should also be noted that Coates was specifically hired as Dylan’s therapist — not Allen’s.)

The United Press International reported the following with regards to Coates’s sworn testimony:

Questioned as to whether Farrow ever told the psychiatrist that Allen had stroked Dylan ‘to the point of arousal’ and pinned the child down on the bed by her arms, the grim-faced [Coates] answered a brusque ‘No!’ to both questions.

Coates testified that Allen’s relationship with Dylan was ‘inappropriately intense’ but denied that it was ‘romantic.’

‘Mr. Allen focused on Dylan because he felt Miss Farrow was obsessed with Satchel,’ she testified.

She said Allen once told her another of Farrow’s adopted children, Fletcher Previn, now 18, slept with his mother in the same bed until he was seven.

‘Miss Farrow later confirmed this in an argument with me,’ Coates said. ‘She said she felt there was a cultural difference about whether it was okay for a child to sleep in the same bed with his mother, but that Fletcher had slept with her and he was fine.’

Coates conclusions concerning Allen’s relationship with Dylan were supported by psychiatrist Kathryn Prescott, Allen’s therapist who had been treating him for 21 years by the time his custody battle took place.

Prescott wrote a letter in August 1992 that was introduced into evidence which stated that Allen had been in therapy for 33 of his 58 years and that Allen’s psychological profile “was definitely not that of a sexual offender” and that “[t]here has never been any suggestion that Mr. Allen was suffering from a sexual perversion / deviant sexual behavior”.

Prescott wrote, “I have never uncovered, discovered any material concerning Mr. Allen which would suggest that he has ever been interested in or engaged in sexual activity with children of either sex.” (See Newsday, April 20, 1993, pg. 1.)

This was the emphatic conclusion of a psychiatric expert who had been studying Allen for over two decades.

So the very therapy that Orth cites specifically concluded that the “inappropriate conduct” by Allen had nothing to do with sexual misbehavior. It instead related to Allen ignoring the other children in the household, thus placing undue emotional pressures on Dylan.

For Orth to omit that fact and simply using the vague words “inappropriate behavior” when discussing allegations of sexual abuse against Allen is particularly loathsome and disingenuous on her part. Her words and the deliberate omissions which accompany them constitute nothing less than a conscious lie on her part.

(Allen’s overeagerness as new father was also not confined to Dylan. A report from Newsday on August 15, 1992, pg. 4, recounts the following anecdote that took place in 1990:

One woman, whose children attended the same pre-school as Satchel, recalls the first day of school about two years ago when Allen had to be rigorously coaxed by the teacher to leave the boy.

“The teachers said to him `Mister Allen, you’re upsetting the other parents. You’re going to have to break away,’ “ recalled the woman, who asked that her name not be used. “Woody told them `Satchel has no problem breaking away. I do.’

“He was a wreck,” the woman recalled. “You could tell he just adores that boy.”

Then, according to the woman, the distressed Allen remarked to her that he was disappointed “Mia wasn’t there on his son’s first day at school.”

For the next four hours, other parents and nannies sipped coffee at nearby cafes, but not Allen. Instead, he paced in front of the school, the non-denominational Park Avenue Christian School in Manhattan.

It was this type of illustrative behavior by Allen that was criticized as being “inappropriate” — not behavior that was sexually inappropriate.)

Orth also fails to note the fact that Allen has been in therapy for most of his life, at his own choosing. He was not ordered into therapy specifically to navigate his new role as a father. It was a natural, voluntary outgrowth of his approach to his various challenges.

Orth’s slander here is not only grossly unfair to Allen, but also has the collateral danger of casting suspicions against any and all parents who might otherwise be inclined to seek therapy to help themselves be better parents. If seeking therapy to better one’s parenting were to result in unfounded suspicions of child abuse, who would bother to seek such help?

Of course Allen was hardly the only one in therapy at the time for “inappropriate behavior”. Do you know who else was? Dylan Farrow.

Dylan began seeing Dr. Nancy Schultz in April of 1991 and continued her therapy weekly for nearly a year-and-a-half until September 1992.

Do you know why Mia Farrow placed Dylan into therapy? Because she was “having trouble telling the difference between reality and fantasy”. (Newsday, Sept. 17, 1992, pg. 6; See also Gainsville Sun, Sept. 18, 1992, pg. 6C, which cites Newsday’s reporting.)

One source said, “It had become trouble for her and the family sought help.” (Newsday, Sept. 17, 1992. pg. 6.)

Schultz “described Dylan’s tentative ties to reality long before her parents began feuding over Allen’s love affair with Soon-Yi.”

It was only shortly after Schultz began to doubt the claim that Allen molested Dylan that Farrow fired her — but not before both Dylan and Ronan put glue in her hair, cut her dress up, and told her to go away. (Later in the custody trial, Schultz testified that she did not believe Dylan had been sexually abused.)

Are we to presume that both the timing of Schultz’s firing and the sudden change of behavior towards her — not only by Dylan but also by Ronan — was just a coincidence, having no connection to Farrow’s influence over her children? Apparently Orth wants you to think so.

If we are to put weight on the “undeniable fact” that Allen was in therapy for “inappropriate behavior,” specifically described as non-sexual, should we not place equal weight on the “undeniable fact” that Dylan was in therapy for “having trouble telling the difference between reality and fantasy”? The regrettable tactic of “therapy shaming” which Orth engages here works both ways.

“Mia Farrow had instructed her babysitters that Allen was never to be left alone with Dylan.”

The key fact here that Orth leaves out is that Farrow told the babysitters this only after she found out about Allen’s affair with Soon-Yi. By that time, Farrow was determined to set Allen up on a charge of child molestation in order to exact revenge. Hence she went about planting the seeds of “warnings” to witnesses while she went about coaching Dylan what to say over a 2–3 day period. At least that is what Monica Thompson, one of the babysitters herself, claimed:

“Ms. Farrow set the stage to report the incident involving Dylan,” Thompson charged. “For several weeks, Ms. Farrow insisted that Mr. Allen not be left alone with Dylan and wanted me to be with them at all times.”

The nanny said that on several occasions the actress “asked me if I would be ‘on her side.’ Ms. Farrow has tried to get me to say that I would support her with these accusations.”

Thompson said in a deposition that it took the actress two or three days to videotape Dylan making the accusations. At times the youngster appeared not to be interested in the process, the nanny said in sworn affidavits taken by Allen’s attorneys.

“I know that the tape was made over the course of at least two and perhaps three days,” Thompson said. “I was present when Ms. Farrow made a portion of that tape outdoors. I recall Ms. Farrow saying to Dylan at that time, ‘Dylan, what did daddy do . . . and what did he do next?’

“Dylan appeared not to be interested, and Ms. Farrow would stop taping for a while and then continue.”

There were no such warnings given to anyone before Farrow discovered Allen’s affair with Soon-Yi. It was only after Farrow realized that she was being dumped for her adopted daughter who was of legal and consenting age that Farrow began to issue such “warnings” about Allen being left alone with Dylan.

After the Soon-Yi affair was discovered, Farrow had even gone so far as to already explicitly label Allen as a child molester by writing a note on his bathroom door that stated: “Child molestor [sic] at Birthday Party! Molded then abused one sister[.] Now focused on youngest sister[.] Family disgusted[.]”

Farrow wrote this during Dylan’s birthday party celebrations in July 1992, weeks before the accusations regarding Dylan. She apparently managed to psychically predict a future case of molestation weeks before it supposedly happened.

(Dylan’s nanny Kristi Groteke claims that Farrow in fact only began using the word “molest” against Allen with regards to his consensual affair with Soon-Yi on “the advice of a child psychologist” whom she does not identify. A development that caused Groteke to think to herself, “I don’t get it. Unless it’s rape, you don’t sexually abuse a twenty-one-year-old girl. That’s a strange choice of words.” See “Mia & Woody: Love and Betrayal”, pg. 79.)

Even then, why does Orth not question why Farrow would even still allow Allen in her house at all if she honestly felt that he would pose a danger to her children? If one has a genuine belief that a person poses a threat to one’s kids by being a molester and sexual predator, what person says its still ok to hang around the kids, as long as there is a babysitter to chaperone them?

The obvious answer is that Farrow never held such genuine beliefs. It was all just part of her plan to lay the groundwork and set Allen up with false accusations over the course of a number of weeks.

Ironically, these very “warnings”, far from casting credibility on the accusations, actually make them less believable.

Farrow had put Allen on notice back in July 1992 that she considered him a child molester — even going so far as to “predict” that Dylan would specifically be the next victim. Then, weeks later in August, as she was conveniently out of the house shopping, she warns the babysitters that Allen was not to be left alone with Dylan (singling Dylan out by name). Yet she does nothing to stop Allen from visiting her house that Allen had no claim to or inherent right to enter. Despite Farrow’s “belief” that Allen is a molester and threat to her kids, she does nothing to stop him from visiting them while she is out of the house.

And it is only during a 10 to 20 minute window, when Allen knew that everyone in the house had been put on alert, and when Farrow herself could have returned at any minute, that Allen at this specific time and place was somehow uncontrollably compelled to drag Dylan up to the attic crawlspace where he quickly molested her for the first and only time in his life — engaging in an act that would have landed him in jail while destroying his career and reputation, with not even a rumor or whisper of any other instance of sexual abuse in his life before or since.

So using Occam’s Razor, what is the more likely scenario here? That Allen used a 20-minute window to molest a child for the first and only time in his life in a house full of people that he knew had been warned about him ahead of time? Or that his vengeful ex-girlfriend in the midst of a custody dispute was actively trying to set him up on a false charge?

Any rational observer understands just how unlikely and facially ridiculous the first scenario is.

Even Farrow’s own nanny (Kristi Groteke) who was present the day the molestation was supposed to have occurred has expressed doubts about the whole scenario.

Groteke was one of the people in the house on the day in question and has remained a loyal supporter of Farrow’s.

Here are a few relevant passages she wrote in her book “Mia & Woody: Love and Betrayal” (co-written in 1994 with Marjorie Rosen, published by Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc.) relating to her experiences in this matter:

[Pgs. 22–23]:

“I should have been more confident. I had been in witness preparation for about two weeks before I testified…I was terrified that I couldn’t do it and would let Mia down.

[A]n hour before I was supposed to testify, as I sat between Mia’s friend Casey Pascal, and her children’s French tutor Sophie Berge, who were also about to take the stand, my composure evaporated. After all, I was about to recount the events of August 4, 1992, the summer afternoon when, under my lapsed vigilance, Woody spent between ten and twenty minutes alone with his adopted daughter Dylan and during that time allegedly sexually molested her. And, to tell the truth, in my heart I hadn’t the foggiest notion of whether or not that molestation ever took place.

…I feared that I might trip things up for Mia, and I didn’t want to. I feared that I would incriminate Woody without ever really being certain of what he had done. (I didn’t want to do that either.)”

Note the fact that Groteke admits to being coached for two full weeks by Farrow’s legal team (an unusually long time to coach a mere witness who claims not to have seen any wrongdoing that day). She of course also admits, as Farrow’s own friend, that she had no idea if any molestation actually took place. Her friendship with Mia and not wanting to “let Mia down” rather than simply telling the truth of what she witnessed apparently stopped short of actual perjury.

The next relevant passage from Groteke’s book comes on pgs. 109–110 when she recounts the first time that Farrow specifically warned her about Allen:

On that humid June morning six months after Mia discovered the Soon-Yi affair, and only moments after she had told me about it, she announced that Woody was about to pay a visit later that day. And for the first time she gave me a new kind of instruction: “From now on, Kristi, I want you to keep a very close eye on him when he’s with Dylan. I want you to follow him around and be very careful, because I’m suspicious of his behavior when he’s with her.”

I didn’t know any reason to be suspicious, nor did I really believe that Woody was capable of doing anything salacious, so I took it perhaps more casually than I should have. I figured that Mia had a right to be upset with him; at that moment, she had a right to be wary.

Still, the business of taking sides and spying on my boss was sticky. Although I was employed by Mia and sympathized with her, back in 1992 I was being paid by Woody. So the first day he arrived in Bridgewater after Mia’s confidential revelation to me, I watched his limo pull up in the gravel driveway and felt sick to my stomach. I would rather not have known about his relationship with Soon-Yi. Now I was required to police him, and I didn’t want to do it.

I stood in the kitchen as Woody walked into the house, and for a moment I was paralyzed. Usually when he arrived, I would gather the children calling, “Daddy’s here! Daddy’s here,” and then I’d bring them over to him. But not this day. On this warm, golden June afternoon I let him find the kids on his own. And then I began to follow them around.

Immediately I sensed that he knew that I knew. We kept making eye contact. Woody would look at me, I would look at him, and then he would avert his eyes. My discomfort was acute. Neither of us, however, said a word.

After Woody’s betrayal with Soon-Yi, Mia would always say to me, “You be careful, Kristi. He’s flirting with you he likes you. Watch out, or you’re next.” But I frankly never sensed that kind of danger.

Groteke here admits that the instruction from Mia came only after the revelation that Allen had been having an affair with Soon-Yi, that she (Groteke) herself had no reason to be suspicious of Allen or sensed any kind of danger (despite Farrow’s warnings that she “was next”), and yet was now “required to police” him. It also confirms the obvious: That Farrow still allowed Allen to regularly visit her house with her kids despite her warnings and beliefs that he is supposedly a threat to them.

Strange, no?

Yet Allen’s accusers would still have you believe that he would choose a time and place to apparently molest his daughter the one and only time in his life when he knew he was actively being policed by everyone in the house.

Again, what is the more likely scenario? That Allen picked the most “policed” moment to quickly drag his daughter up to the attic for 20 minutes to molest her? Or that Farrow, stung by the Soon-Yi affair, began to plot her revenge by hatching a scheme to set Allen up on false charges?

Again, in the following weeks after her explicit warning to Groteke, Farrow would again put everyone on notice that she already considered Allen to be a molester by attaching a hate-filled note to his bathroom door labeling him as such, after already sending him a Valentine’s card earlier that year with the family picture stabbed multiple times.

Dr. Coates testified that during this time, Farrow “felt variously that Mr. Allen should be killed, she would like to kill him, or that she would like to stab his eyes out.”

Coates further said that Farrow had called Allen “a moral tumbleweed,” “satanic” and “evil,” and told her, “Somebody has to find a way to stop him.” (Newsday, March 30, 1993, pg. 7.)

Do you still think Orth’s theory is the likely one?

Even nanny Groteke voiced her own doubts, given the obvious signs that Farrow was setting up ahead of time to eventually charge Allen with abuse. Here is what she writes on pgs. 128–129 in her book, “Mia & Woody: Love and Betrayal” (the emphasis here is contained in the original text):

…I felt responsible for the events of August 4, since Dylan was in my care that afternoon. Still, I had been puzzled by the vigilance with which Mia herself had been watching for signs of molestation; it had sometimes seemed as if she were willing the incident to happen. For instance, take the child-molester note that she tacked onto the bathroom door after Dylan’s birthday party. Of course, Mia said that she was referring to Soon-Yi. In light of events to come, her accusation seems eerily prophetic. But of what? Of Woody’s actions? Of her own vindictive need to make the punishment fit the crime?

On August 4, the day in question, Mia had gone out clothes shopping to New Milford with Tam and Isaiah, and Woody had driven up from Manhattan to play with Satchel and Dylan. Not long before his arrival, Mia’s friend, Casey [Pascal], also came by with her three children and baby-sitter, Alison Stickland, in tow. I was present, and so was Sophie Bergé, the French tutor, who baby-sat all that summer as well. The truth is, when we retraced our steps that day, there were only fifteen to twenty minutes in which Dylan was out of my sight, Sophie’s, Casey’s, or Alison’s. Of course, those are the suspect “twenty minutes” when, Mia alleges, the molestation must have occurred.

Please note this critical fact: Dylan’s own nanny admits that Allen was in her sight the entire time on the day in question, except for, at most, 20 minutes. And even these “missing” 20 minutes (when Allen supposedly quickly rushed Dylan up to the attic to molest her for the first and only time in his life, in a house full of people) is fully accounted for by Dylan’s brother Moses.

Moses states: “ I remember where Woody sat in the TV room, and I can picture where Dylan and Satchel were. Not that everybody stayed glued to the same spot, but I deliberately made sure to note everyone’s coming and going. I do remember that Woody would leave the room on occasion, but never with Dylan. He would wander into another room to make a phone call, read the paper, use the bathroom, or step outside to get some air and walk around the large pond on the property.” [emphasis added]

Even Groteke, who remained a supporter of Farrow and a critic of Allen, admits that Farrow’s actions leading up to August 4th, 1992 seemed actively “willing the incident to happen”.

She called Farrow’s note to Allen branding him a molester weeks before in July 1992 “eerily prophetic”.

Apparently it was just as “eerily prophetic” when Dory Previn wrote her song in 1970 entitled, “With My Daddy In The Attic”, concerning a story of child abuse incest in an attic by a father who plays the clarinet, just like Woody Allen does. An astonishing coincidence, no?

(In case you didn’t know, Farrow had an affair with composer Andre Previn while he had been married to Dory, effectively stealing Previn away from her when Farrow became pregnant with twins — Matthew and Sascha. The affair caused Dory Previn to suffer a nervous breakdown where she was institutionalized and forced to undergo electroshock therapy.

Dory Previn released and album afterwards that featured the songs “Beware of Young Girls” in direct reference to Farrow and “With My Daddy In The Attic”.

This was in 1970 — a full decade before Woody Allen even met Mia Farrow. Yet Dory Previn proved to be just as “eerily prophetic” by predicting that the clarinet playing ex-boyfriend of the person who stole her husband from her would somehow molest his own daughter in an attic.

Just as it was “eerily prophetic” when Groteke read the note in July 1992 where Farrow brands Allen as a molester weeks before the alleged molestation occurred. So that makes two amazing “prophecies”. What are the odds of such amazing coincidences both occurring in the same case? 1 in 5?

Just as it was also “eerily prophetic” when Farrow’s own brother was actually arrested, convicted and sentenced for sexually abusing two boys multiple times over the course of several years. Farrow has never spoken about it, so we don’t know how much contact he might have had with his nieces and nephews or if they might have projected his behaviors towards others. But this case seems undeniably full of extraordinary “coincidences”.)

According to Groteke, from her vantage point, “everything seemed normal on August 4” (“Mia & Woody: Love and Betrayal”, pg. 129). It was only when she was asked by Farrow after the fact to recount if she ever let Dylan out of her sight that she admitted that she couldn’t remember seeing her for “twenty minutes”. She didn’t tell Farrow that anything strange happened that day. Instead, she was only asked by Farrow to “retrace her steps” after the fact when Farrow was determined to make an accusation against Allen.

That is why Groteke even puts the “twenty minutes” in quotes and states “when Mia alleges the molestation must have occurred”, since nothing in Groteke’s own experience that day suggests that anything did actually occur.

That is why Groteke herself speculates that maybe this accusation was strictly about Farrow’s “vindictive need to make the punishment fit the crime” for Allen’s affair with Soon-Yi.

Keep in mind that these accusations took place in 1992, during a stretch of history when America was in still the throws of a moral panic over child molestation cases that turned out to be patently false.

For Orth to deliberately omit all of this vital context is an outrageous example of her slanted agitprop.