The extensive public custody battle between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow ended Tuesday as it began--in a barrage of bitter charges and countercharges.
In closing arguments, each parent, through lawyers, accused the other of being unfit, of lying and disregarding the welfare of the children. Allen’s lawyer called for reconciliation, a time to heal. Farrow’s attorney dismissed the plea outright, arguing that her client’s family needs protection.
Acting state Supreme Court Justice Elliott Wilk, who has been conducting the custody trial without a jury, promised a decision within a month.
During the trial, the filmmaker and his former leading lady took the witness stand, along with a parade of dueling therapists. Wilk had initially urged in private that the two sides reach an agreement, but the proceedings concluded without either giving an inch.
Allen and Farrow are fighting over custody of their three children: their adopted daughter, Dylan, 7, their adopted son, Moses, 15, and their biological son, Satchel, 5.
There were indications Tuesday from Eleanor B. Alter, one of Farrow’s lawyers, that even if the filmmaker is granted some form of visitation with Dylan, her client would seek a new hearing before Wilk to prevent that.
A panel of experts in New Haven, Conn., in March cleared Allen of charges of molesting Dylan during a visit to Farrow’s summer home last August. According to a deposition from Dr. John M. Leventhal, a pediatrician who headed the New Haven team, Dylan was “extraordinarily protective of her mother and did not want to see her mother hurt.”
Leventhal said that Dylan stuck to her story of child abuse “because of the intense relationship she had with her mother and because of the fact she probably had some difficulty distinguishing what was true and what wasn’t true.”
On Tuesday, each side summed up its arguments in the case, which has stripped bare intimate details of Allen’s and Farrow’s lives.
Alter accused Allen of knowing no boundaries. Farrow’s lawyer charged that the filmmaker’s affair with Soon-Yi Farrow Previn, now 22, the daughter Farrow adopted with conductor Andre Previn, had “destroyed Dylan’s childhood.”
Allen and Farrow ended their longtime relationship in 1992 after Farrow found nude photos of Soon-Yi Previn in Allen’s apartment.
Alter said it would be a travesty if Allen was granted custody of Dylan.
“Mr. Allen has no concept of how to behave as a responsible human being,” the lawyer charged. “He has violated the fundamental trust of a family, created an irreparable break. His actions have been morally unacceptable, socially confusing and sexually baffling as a role model for a child.
” . . . His inappropriate behavior with Dylan shows he does not know how to be a father. He does not have the stability.
“A family is supposed to be a safe place . . . . If this family is to have any peace, they need protection from this court.”
Elkan Abramowitz, speaking for Allen, sought to portray Farrow as a vindictive and less-than-truthful person who coached Dylan to say she was molested by the movie director.
“Miss Farrow persists in placing her needs and feelings ahead of Dylan’s,” the lawyer told Wilk. " . . . Her children are soldiers and pawns in a publicity barrage to denigrate Mr. Allen.”
Abramowitz said the Yale-New Haven panel of experts that examined the molestation charges against Allen was nationally famous, had handled 1,700 cases and was selected by Connecticut state police.
“They have found the abuse did not occur. You can rely on that finding,” the lawyer told the court. " . . . There is no credible evidence that Mr. Allen was alone with Dylan.
“The plain and simple reading is (that) disturbed thinking pervaded and pervades the Farrow household . . . . This was not a happy paradise that Mr. Allen invaded and tried to destroy.”
Abramowitz charged that, after Farrow learned of Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi, “she understood best how to get her revenge. It is all summed up in what she said: You took my daughter and I am going to take yours. She understood how vulnerable Mr. Allen was to this threat. She pursued it with a singleness of purpose that Mr. Allen underestimated.”
Allen’s lawyer charged that Farrow had retained Harvard law professor Alan M. Dershowitz because “he is not a quiet, mediating type of lawyer. He is the type of lawyer who explodes matters from quiet to noise.”
He further charged that Dershowitz had sought a $5-million settlement from the filmmaker on Farrow’s behalf after the charges of child abuse were made. Abramowitz said that, even if someone “has a Harvard accent,” if he asks you to “pay for something you didn’t do, that’s extortion.”
At the same time, he held out an olive branch of reconciliation, proposing meaningful visitation with Dylan and therapy to restore the family.
Abramowitz said that, if Allen was granted custody, he would share time spent with the children 50-50 with Farrow.