Former Prosecutor Announces That He May Sue Woody Allen Over Child Abuse Column

445px-woody_allen_2006Woody Allen continues to be a virtual fountain of interesting criminal and civil cases. Over the weekend, Allen responded to an op-ed in the New York Times in which his adopted daughter, Dylan, 28, who accused him again of sexual abuse. In Allen’s responsive op-ed, he again denies the allegations and blames an overzealous prosecutor. While unnamed, it could only former Litchfield State’s Attorney Frank Maco. Now Maco is suggesting that he may now sue Allen for defamation.

We previously saw a bizarre trademark case where Allen’s image was used but later claimed to be without value by American Apparel due to his history.

Maco however is suggesting that his professional reputation was injured by the op-ed. What is interesting is that Allen is not threatening litigation against Dylan. Dylan recounted how, when she was 7 years old, she was abused and then how Hollywood ignored the abuse.

In his reply, Allen suggests that Dylan’s allegations were most likely the result of coaching by Mia Farrow amid their “terribly acrimonious breakup.” He noted the findings of Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital that there was no abuse. (The basis for this conclusion was challenged by the family as discussed in Vanity Fair’s recent “Ten Undeniable Facts” story on the allegations). He then adds that “[t]his conclusion disappointed a number of people. The district attorney was champing at the bit to prosecute a celebrity case, and Justice Elliott Wilk, the custody judge, wrote a very irresponsible opinion saying when it came to the molestation, ‘we will probably never know what occurred.’”

Maco responded with outrage that the op-ed constituted an “attack upon my character was unprovoked, gratuitous, unwarranted and most importantly, unsupported by my history as a prosecutor.” He added that “in coming days I will consider the wisdom of seeking legal representation in order to further address Allen’s assault upon my character.”

Maco is right that it is an attack on his character and professionalism but he is wrong that it is actionable. Maco was a public official and is subject to the standard under New York Times v. Sullivan. He would have to show that Allen acted with actual malice as can be shown by either knowingly disregard of the falsity or reckless disregard of the truth. Allen will responded that he stated an opinion, which is protected, as to the basis and motivation of the action taken against him.

Maco insisted in 1993 that there was probable cause but he decided not to prosecute to protect the child. That is a curious rationale since any prosecution for child abuse involves a child and the risk of trauma. Moreover, Maco’s statement on probable cause was itself an attack on Allen’s character and actions. Moreover, a later disciplinary board found that Maco may have prejudiced the later custody battle by making an accusation without formal charges.

Maco does not have a claim in my view and the threat is an empty one. In addition, I do not believe that it is appropriate for prosecutors to publicly say that they had probable cause to charge an individual who was not in fact charged. If you believe that Allen committed a heinous offense against a child, you should prosecute him. If you choose not to do so, you should not then attack a citizen in the media as presumptively guilty. By the way, Mr. Maco, that is an opinion.

Source: ABA Journal

18 thoughts on “Former Prosecutor Announces That He May Sue Woody Allen Over Child Abuse Column”

  1. Robin,

    Woody Allen was NEVER a part of Soon Yi’s life when she was a child…
    This is recorded fact via Mia in interviews and court statements….
    Soon Yi did not even really KNOW Woody Allen…. he NEVER lived with Soon Yi til they became involved when she was OVER 19 years old….

    Do I think that it was kosher that Woody Allen dated then married his long time girlfriends adopted daughter????
    NO, it is not really a cool thing to do….
    BUT, he was NEVER a father figure and was NOT around when Soon Yi was
    younger…. So, this was NOT a case of grooming…..

    and really, if he had been a pedophile, he would have been accused MORE than ONCE……

    I think those so called memories were planted in Dylan’s head by Mia…

  2. Bk,

    Can’t read that without downloading an app…. What’s it say…..????? (DavidM said he didn’t understand unless I had question marks)…..

  3. @PLATOS so marrying a young lady you adopted as a child and grooming wait i mean raising her as your daughter doesnt constitute a more then one time insistence? and im still waiting for some or any one to explain why the same allegations would come out double digit years later?

    are all of you really saying that mia has held on to it all this time? am i speaking from experience ? YES…..

    at the age of 12 my mother was 8 months pregnant with my sister when i was raped by my sisters father… i told my mother and grandmother who accused me of lying etc. which then took me from being an A+ student to not caring what my grades were.. the good news is he disappeared 2 years later and a 1 after that it came out that he raped 2 of my cousins also…..admittedly it took me many years and trials to finally come to terms with the rape and my families reaction… 15 years to be exact but since the age of 27 when i finally got the help i needed my life has gone pretty good. now exactly why would dylan and ronan bring all this out yet again? when they are grown and not forced in any shape ,form, nor fashion to deal with woody?

  4. Woody Allen needed to respond. He is getting up there in age and like me he wants to die clean. That prosecutor is on slim ice. Waco Texas or somesuch.

  5. I agree, no basis for a lawsuit. It kinda goes with the territory with being a prosecutor, the accused sometimes make statements against them.

  6. Thanks for some cool logic and facts. It’s amazing to me that anyone who thought or thinks Allen was guilty, including the prosecutor, has not done more investigation. That includes the very wealthy Mia Farrow. I’m no expert, but everything I’ve ever heard about child molesters is that it is a serial obsession. Do real child molesters only do it once, and during a heated custody battle in a house full of people?

    The lynch mob’s only concern seems to be bullying anyone who thinks the initial investigation was right, claiming they don’t care about victims of abuse. This ignores the fact that children used as weapons in custody cases are victims of abuse too and suffer real damage. In the case of kids that become convinced the abuse really happened, there is little difference in the psychological damage from an actual abuse.

    More study needs to be done, but if it is true that most allegations of abuse in custody cases are found to be false, then this fact needs to be publicized to stop more people from trying it and traumatizing their children.
    “And lastly, of those 43,000 or so allegations (depending on the study, sampling methods, and definitions), anywhere from 85% to 97% of cases are shown to be false or unfounded, 95% of the allegations are offered by the custodial parent”

    I remember the initial investigation, and all the false abuse hysteria that came before it (I lived near the McMartin preschool). Some people have a hard time believing people’s perceptions can be so easily manipulated, much the same as they don’t want to believe eyewitness testimony is often wrong.
    “we’ve done hundreds of experiments involving thousands of subjects showing that it’s relatively easy to change people’s memory of the details of an event that they’ve actually experienced.”

    It is a horrible problem since talking about false allegations can stop real victims from coming forward, terrified they won’t be believed. And the most disturbing thing about this whole celebrity scandal is how little the media cared about how what they were saying would affect real victims.

    The first stories completely omitted any mention of the the investigation, they put forth the idea that these high profile allegations were made and no investigation was done – horribly irresponsible.

    In the end no one is saying what needs to be said – if you have been a victim, come forward, allegations are usually taken very seriously and investigated. And if they are not (if your abuser happens to be a football player for instance), nowadays you can go to the media and advocacy groups to get support. And finally we have to be honest, there may not be enough evidence in your case to prosecute – BUT you will have put a spotlight on your abuser and it will make it easier to convict him the next time he commits a crime. And most importantly, the abuse is not your fault, and only by coming forward can you get the help you need and deserve.

  7. Well, for what it’s worth my take on the Woody Allen situation is here:

    It’s true that prosecutor Maco is way off base, Prof. Turley is exactly right. If you’re not going to charge you say nothing or you say that Mr. Allen will not be charged and is presumed innocent and that’s it. Saying “I had probable cause but I’m not prosecuting it for other reasons.” is grand standing and weasly at the same time.

    Allen might have had a lawsuit against Maco years ago, but Maco should just shut up at this point. Not that he will. Over-confidence is a hallmark of prosecutors-as-litigant. They’re too used to the system giving them their way.

  8. I’ve always been a big Woody Allen fan. I’m not going to stop because of accusations brought during a time when prosecutors were seeing pedophiles around every corner and in every day care center. I do realize he could be guilty. And that Mia could be guilty of coaching.

    I haven’t been through a divorce or even an acrimonious separation, but I have friends who have. People I thought were the most honest on the planet started spewing blatant lies in an effort to beat down their former partners. In several instances this happened when I had personal knowledge that what they were saying was not true. Separation and divorce changes people (thankfully, usually temporarily) in some pretty frightening ways.

    Back on topic….the prosecutor sounds like a pompous ass.

  9. By making those comments and by his conduct Maco substantiates Allen’s charges and Op-Ed. He did Allen a great favor by providing proof of his lack of ability as a prosecutor.

  10. I grew up in Litchfield County. It has some of the wealthiest people and some pretty poor folk as well. The great governor, later US Senator, Abe Ribicoff, did away w/ county government when he was governor. That was when Dems were good. Ribicoff is the guy on the podium @ the 1968 Chicago Convention ripping Mayor Daley a new one and the thuggish Daley swearing @ him. Those were the days my friend.

  11. I am a big fan of Woody Allen’s flicks. He is a gifted writer, director, and damn funny. I think he is a creepy narcissist ideologue elitist. I don’t think he is good for this charge. See..when you’re independent you can diversify your thoughts.

  12. I’m not a woody Allen fan…. But this seems a bit much….. And yes, people do do these type of things to gain an advantage in custody…. And to have a prosecutor make statements will ultimately affect some custody battles…. Do I think Allen is capable of this…. Yes…. Do I know for certain…. No….

  13. Woody Allen knows attorneys. The best in NY. Allen would not publish an OpEd lacking okay by the best. Maco is blustering.

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