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Farrow Wins Custody of 3 Children She, Allen Share : Trial: Ruling climaxes a bitter courtroom conflict. Judge calls filmmaker ‘self-absorbed, untrustworthy.’

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Declaring Woody Allen to be “self-absorbed, untrustworthy and insensitive,” a judge Monday awarded custody of the three children the filmmaker shares with Mia Farrow to the actress.

The ruling was the result of an extraordinarily candid trial during which intimate details of the combatants’ private lives were put on public view.

Farrow had accused Allen of sexual abuse of their adopted 7-year-old daughter, Dylan, and of destroying his relationship with his other children by having an affair with Farrow’s oldest adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, 22.

State Supreme Court Justice Elliott Wilk called Allen’s petition for custody “frivolous” and ordered him to pay Farrow’s legal fees--which are likely to be considerable.

“The evidence at trial established that Ms. Farrow is a caring and loving mother who has provided a home for both her biological and her adopted children,” Wilk said.

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In a 33-page brief that read like a stern lecture, the judge said that Allen, 57, had “demonstrated no parenting skills that would qualify him as an adequate custodian” for the children the filmmaker sought. He ruled that Allen’s “lack of judgment, insight and impulse control” make unsupervised visits with Dylan and Satchel, two of the children, “too risky to the children’s well-being to be permitted at this time.”

However, the judge said that unless it interferes with Dylan’s treatment and is inconsistent with her welfare, Allen should resume seeing her in a therapeutic context within six months. He also increased supervised visits with Satchel, the couple’s 5-year-old biological son, to three sessions a week from two.

Wilk decided he would not require Allen’s adopted son Moses to visit his father if he does not wish to do so, but the judge said if the 15-year-old can be helped by seeing the filmmaker, then he believes Farrow should “promote such interaction.”

“I hope that Moses will come to understand that the fear of demons often cannot be dispelled without first confronting them,” Wilk said.

Farrow, 48, Allen’s longtime companion and star of several of his films, said she felt wonderful.

“For so many months, my family has been living through a nightmare. My children were ripped apart emotionally. But I am just so proud of the way they stood by each other and by me,” she said.

As she emerged from the courtroom, Eleanor Alter, Farrow’s chief lawyer during the trial, declared: “It’s everything I wanted to protect this family. The only thing I regret is that everybody had to be put through this emotionally and financially.”

Farrow is still suing Allen in Surrogates Court in Manhattan, seeking to overturn the adoptions.

“I think it’s tragic for the children that their custody was not awarded to me,” Allen said in a statement.

“Still, I am gratified that the court has confirmed my role as Dylan’s father and has ordered visitation through a therapeutic process, which is exactly what I suggested last September. I am also gratified that the judge has encouraged Moses to resume his relationship with me. I am disappointed, however, that although my visitation with Satchel has been increased, it is not as much as I feel I am entitled to.”

“I will continue to fight for full visitation with all of my children which I feel is vital to their well-being, and which I deserve,” he pledged.

Wilk’s decision came a month after the conclusion of the custody trial--a bitter courtroom drama that in large measure centered on accusations that Allen had molested Dylan during a visit to Farrow’s summer home in Connecticut last August.

As part of their still-pending investigation, Connecticut State Police referred Dylan to the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of Yale-New Haven Hospital for evaluation. On March 17, hospital officials issued a report concluding that Allen had not sexually abused Dylan.

In his decision, Wilk said the evidence suggests it is “unlikely” that Allen could be successfully prosecuted for sexual abuse.

“I am less certain, however, than is the Yale-New Haven team, that the evidence proves conclusively that there was no sexual abuse,” the judge said. He said he agrees with two medical witnesses who stated during the trial, “We will probably never know what occurred on Aug. 4, 1992.”

Wilk added, however, that Allen’s behavior toward Dylan was “grossly inappropriate and that measures must be taken to protect her.”

Wilk said he did not believe Farrow would have exposed her daughter and her other children to the consequences of the Connecticut investigation and the trial “if she did not believe the possible truth of Dylan’s accusation.”

“In a society where children are too often betrayed by adults who ignore or disbelieve their complaints of abuse, Ms. Farrow’s determination to protect Dylan is commendable,” the judge said.


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