Soon-Yi Previn breaks silence to defend Woody Allen

Soon-Yi Previn breaks silence to defend Woody Allen
David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons
1992: Woody Allen admits to being romantically involved with Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, Allen's longtime companion.

Soon-Yi Previn has broken her silence to defend husband Woody Allen against allegations of molestation and to accuse her adopted mother Mia Farrow of abusing her emotionally and physically as a child.

In a rare and controversial interview published Sunday in New York magazine Vulture, Previn opens up about her relationship with Allen — who was Farrow’s partner for a significant period of time while Previn was growing up — and says that her mother “was never kind to me, never civil.”

Previn, who is originally from South Korea, was adopted by Farrow at the age of 6. Her sexual relationship with Allen, 35 years her elder, sparked global outrage when it was revealed in the early 1990s — when she was 21 years old.

At around the same time, Allen was facing accusations of molesting 7-year-old Dylan Farrow, another of Farrow’s adopted children. He has always denied the allegations and was not charged.

In the interview, Previn accused Mia Farrow of pushing Dylan to speak out and of exploiting the #MeToo movement to take revenge against her former husband.

“What’s happened to Woody is so upsetting, so unjust,” Previn said. “(Mia) has taken advantage of the #MeToo movement and paraded Dylan as a victim. And a whole new generation is hearing about it when they shouldn’t.”

In a statement posted to Twitter, Dylan Farrow rejected the accusation, saying that her mother “never coached” her and that no one is “parading me around as a victim.”

“I continue to be an adult woman making a credible allegation unchanged for two decades, backed up by evidence,” she wrote.

Investigators concluded at the time that Farrow had not been abused, according to The New York Times, which covered the custody proceedings after Allen filed for custody of his three children with Mia Farrow in 1992.

Acting Justice Elliott Wilk of New York’s State Supreme Court was less certain. While he said “it was unlikely that Mr. Allen could be prosecuted for sexual abuse based on the evidence,” Wilk said “he found the evidence inconclusive,” according to the newspaper.

In 1993, Connecticut State’s Attorney Frank Maco — who has since retired — told reporters he believed there was probable cause to arrest Allen. But he said he decided not to press charges, with Mia Farrow’s support, “rather than exposing the child to possible harm.”

A representative for Allen, Leslee Dart, released this statement in 2014.

“The experts concluded there was no credible evidence of molestation; that Dylan Farrow had an inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality; and that Dylan Farrow had likely been coached by her mother Mia Farrow. No charges were ever filed.”

Responding to the Vulture article, Dylan Farrow also criticized the magazine for allowing Daphne Merkin, who acknowledges a 40-year friendship with Woody Allen, to author the piece.

“The idea of letting a friend of an alleged predator write a one-sided piece attacking the credibility of his victim is disgusting,” she wrote in her statement.

In the article, Previn also claims that Farrow was a neglectful and abusive mother who used her and her adopted sisters as “domestics,” made to do the cooking, cleaning and shopping for the family while Farrow worked on scrapbooks and spoke to her friends on the phone.

According to Previn, Farrow frequently got angry at her for her poor level of English.

Previn said Farrow once suggested she should be sent to “an insane asylum” because she did not do what her mother asked her to do. Another time, she says Farrow threw a porcelain rabbit at her head, out of frustration.

Previn said she came to the US from South Korea without knowing a word of English and that Farrow would become impatient with her, according to the article.

“She tried to teach me the alphabet with those wooden blocks. If I didn’t get them right, sometimes she’d throw them at me or down on the floor. Who can learn under that pressure?”, she asked.

Previn said she has a learning disability, but early on it caused strife with her mother.

“Mia used to write words on my arm, which was humiliating, so I’d always wear long-sleeved shirts. She would also tip me upside down, holding me by my feet, to get the blood to drain to my head. Because she thought — or she read it, God knows where she came up with the notion — that blood going to my head would make me smarter or something,” claimed Previn.

“I really can’t come up with a pleasant memory,” Previn said when asked by Merkin about positive recollections of her mother.

While Previn’s younger brother Moses Farrow has also accused their mother of abusive behavior, other siblings including Dylan and Ronan have consistently defended her.

“I owe everything I am to Mia Farrow,” Ronan, a journalist who has reported widely on #MeToo, wrote on Twitter in response to the Vulture article. “She is a devoted mom who went through hell for her family, all while creating a loving home for us.”

Echoing his sister, Ronan also condemned the article itself, describing it as “a hit job,” and accused Vulture of betraying journalistic standards.

In a joint statement, eight of Farrow’s children — excluding Soon-Yi Previn and Moses Farrow — described her as “caring and giving” and accused Previn of “unfairly” attacking her.

“We love and stand by our mom, who has always been a caring and giving parent. None of us ever witnessed anything other than compassionate treatment in our home, which is why the courts granted sole custody to our mother of all her children. We reject any effort to deflect from Dylan’s allegation by trying to vilify our mom. While we would rather not have to speak publicly about this painful time in our lives, we also couldn’t be silent as she is once again unfairly attacked.”

“None of us ever witnessed anything other than compassionate treatment in our home,” they wrote.

When contacted by CNN, Mia Farrow’s representative declined to comment on Previn’s allegations and referred to the supportive statement from Farrow’s children.

CNN’s Laura Ly contributed to this report.