NEW YORK -- Woody Allen has denied that he sexually abused his children and instead has accused the attorneys for his former lover, Mia Farrow, of offering to drop abuse charges if he agreed to come up with $7 million.
"This is an unconscionable and gruesomely damaging manipulation of innocent children for vindictive and self-serving purposes," the usually reclusive filmmaker said yesterday at a packed news conference at the Plaza Hotel.
"To make matters worse -- if that were possible -- several days ago, attorneys representing the other side called a meeting with my own informing them that any publicity, even if the [abuse] allegations are totally unfounded, would hurt me," Mr. Allen said. "They then proceeded to demand $7 million, saying that if I submitted to their demands, they would not press the allegations, and that they could make my children unavailable to the authorities."
Mr. Allen, dressed casually in khaki slacks and a light blue button-down shirt, and reading from a prepared statement, said he was "greatly saddened" that "sources close to Mia Farrow," his former leading lady in life and film, made public allegations of child abuse against him.
Calling the allegations a "popular but heinous card played in all too many of child custody fights," Mr. Allen said that he has been trying to work out a shared custody agreement with Ms. Farrow for the past eight months. Sources say their 12-year relationship had been faltering over the past few years.
"Then, suddenly and appallingly I was accused of having molested my beloved 7-year-old daughter and hysterically the next day of molesting my dear 4 1/2 -year-old son," Mr. Allen said.
Yesterday, Connecticut State Police would say only that they were continuing a criminal investigation of Mr. Allen. But they planned to provide more information on the case today. Police sources said they were investigating alleged sexual abuse of Dylan, a 7-year-old girl adopted by Mr. Allen and Ms. Farrow.
Mr. Allen's statement yesterday was the first public allusion to accusations involving the couple's natural son, Satchel. Last Thursday, Mr. Allen filed suit seeking custody of Satchel, Dylan and another jointly adopted child, Moses, 14.
Yesterday, Mr. Allen again acknowledged that he is having an affair with Soon-Yi Farrow Previn, 21, the adopted daughter of Ms. Farrow and former husband Andre Previn.
In his statement, Mr. Allen said, "In the end, the one thing I have been guilty of is falling in love with Miss Farrow's adult daughter at the end of our own years together and, painful as that might be, I certainly feel that the children do not deserve this form of retribution."