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Woody Allen Wins Right to See Videotape : Custody case: The filmmaker makes a surprise appearance at New York hearing. A judge also rules he can send gifts to his children.

December 16, 1992|JOHN J. GOLDMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — Woody Allen made a surprise appearance in court Tuesday and won the right to view a videotape of his adopted 7-year-old daughter, Dylan, during which she allegedly claims that the filmmaker molested her.

Mia Farrow, Allen's estranged longtime companion, was not present during the sometimes acrimonious hearing on custody motions in New York State Supreme Court.

During the hearing, lawyers for Allen charged that Farrow had fired Dylan's therapist after the psychologist told Farrow she had severe doubts about the entire incident of purported sexual abuse.

Friends of Allen said the therapist drew her conclusion after viewing the videotape and after conducting sessions with the child. Investigators in Connecticut, where the incident allegedly occurred last August, have asked for the psychologist's notes, these sources said.

Lawyers for Farrow contend that the therapist was discharged because Allen was paying her fees and part of her plane fare to return from a European vacation to resume treating the child after the allegations were made.

Allen's lawyers in court Tuesday labeled that reason "a ruse."

Farrow and Allen ended their relationship last summer after a dozen years together. They are engaged in a bitter custody battle over Satchel, their 4-year-old biological son, Dylan and Moses, 14, two children whom Allen adopted with Farrow last December.

Farrow's lawyers charged in court Tuesday that hotel and phone records in their possession show that at the time of the adoption, Allen was having an affair with Soon-Yi Farrow Previn, 21, one of Farrow's adopted daughters from her former marriage to conductor Andre Previn.

Allen denied this at a news conference after the hearing.

Standing in the glare of television lights at the courthouse, he was asked if he would have taken up with Soon-Yi if he knew all this was going to happen.

"If I had known this, I would never have taken Mia to that first lunch years ago," he replied with a small smile.

After hearing arguments for more than an hour, State Supreme Court Judge Elliott Wilk ruled on a number of motions. The judge permitted Allen to send holiday gifts to the children and a birthday present to Satchel, who will be 5 next week. But he prohibited Allen from going to Dylan's school and from seeking to have Dylan receive psychiatric help.

Allen's appearance in court was unexpected. Only days earlier, family friends had stressed that the hearing would be routine and that he would not attend.

However, he walked into the courtroom and found a seat among surprised reporters in the second row of the gallery.

"I have never been in a courtroom before, except when I made a movie," he said before the hearing.

As lawyers for both sides argued, Allen leaned forward in his seat, listening intently with his arms folded across his chest or resting his chin in his hand. Once the hearing started, he seemed oblivious to the journalists around him.

At his news conference, Allen said he was "thrilled" that he will be allowed to give the children holiday presents.

"I am genuinely happy. My goal is to be reunited with my children as rapidly as possible," he said. The director said he hoped authorities in Connecticut would finish their inquiry "as rapidly as possible."

Connecticut State Police officials are looking into whether Allen sexually molested Dylan during a visit to Farrow's home in the state. Allen, who has denied the accusation, has met with an official panel of two social workers and a pediatrician who are preparing a report for prosecutors. The panel has also conducted regular interviews with Dylan and others who may have knowledge of the situation.

Prosecutors are not expected to make a decision in the matter until January.

During Tuesday's hearing, Allen's lawyers argued that they should be able to see the videotape Farrow made of Dylan.

"Counsel on this side of the table are the only people who have not seen it," Martin Obten, one of Allen's lawyers, charged sarcastically. Obten said the tape had been "commercially reproduced in a video studio."

"Numerous people have seen it," he continued. "Showing this tape will damage this child permanently. Under the law, we have a right to discovery of this tape."

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