Two years after his sister Dylan Farrow wrote an open letter detailing alleged sexual abuse by her adoptive father Woody Allen, Ronan Farrow has published his own essay taking issue with those who continue to brush aside the accusations.
Since Dylan published her story, in which she detailed how Allen "groomed" her before sexually assaulting her at the age of 7, Amazon gave Allen millions of dollars to create his first TV show before the director even had a concept. The as-yet-untitled show's cast currently includes Miley Cyrus, Joy Behar, Michael Rapaport and Lewis Black, among others.
"Actors, including some I admire greatly, continue to line up to star in his movies," Ronan writes in The Hollywood Reporter. "'It's not personal,' one once told me. But it hurts my sister every time one of her heroes like Louis C.K., or a star her age, like Miley Cyrus, works with Woody Allen. Personal is exactly what it is — for my sister, and for women everywhere with allegations of sexual assault that have never been vindicated by a conviction."
Ronan compares the media coverage of Allen to that of Bill Cosby before Hannibal Buress' stand-up clip went viral and more women began to come forward with their stories. He also points a finger at every journalist who refuses to ask the hard questions regarding the allegations against Allen.
In the essay, the former MSNBC host recounts his own experience of wanting to have an in-depth discussion with a Cosby biographer who omitted the rape allegations in his book. However, Farrow says he was ultimately pressured into asking a single question late in the interview.
"Today, the number of accusers has risen to 60. The author has apologized. And reporters covering Cosby have been forced to examine decades of omissions, of questions unasked, stories untold," Ronan writes. "I am one of those reporters — I'm ashamed of that interview."
After Dylan came forward to tell her own story, Ronan saw the power of the publicity machine from the other side. "Every day, colleagues at news organizations forwarded me the emails blasted out by Allen's powerful publicist, who had years earlier orchestrated a robust publicity campaign to validate my father's sexual relationship with another one of my siblings," Ronan recalled. "Those emails featured talking points ready-made to be converted into stories, complete with validators on offer — therapists, lawyers, friends, anyone willing to label a young woman confronting a powerful man as crazy, coached, vindictive. At first, they linked to blogs, then to high-profile outlets repeating the talking points — a self-perpetuating spin machine."
Ronan admitted he wasn't always supportive of Dylan's decision to publicly discuss the allegations, but that his belief in her story has never wavered. "This was always true as a brother who trusted her, and, even at 5 years old, was troubled by our father's strange behavior around her: climbing into her bed in the middle of the night, forcing her to suck his thumb — behavior that had prompted him to enter into therapy focused on his inappropriate conduct with children prior to the allegations," he wrote.
While Ronan says he's heartened by the courage of reporters who don't shy away from confronting the allegations against Allen, he is deeply troubled by how many people still devalue Dylan's accusations, in part because charges were never pursued (a decision, he explains, their mother Mia Farrow made to protect Dylan from further harm).
"That kind of silence isn't just wrong. It's dangerous," Ronan concludes. "It sends a message to victims that it's not worth the anguish of coming forward. It sends a message about who we are as a society, what we'll overlook, who we'll ignore, who matters and who doesn't.
"We are witnessing a sea change in how we talk about sexual assault and abuse. But there is more work to do to build a culture where women like my sister are no longer treated as if they are invisible. It's time to ask some hard questions."