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Why is everyone so convinced of Woody Allen’s guilt?

Allen with his wife Soon-Yi in 2011. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

I’ve covered all manner of controversial subjects as a journalist, says Hadley Freeman in The Sunday Times, but the one that triggers the “most extreme reactions” is, without a doubt, Woody Allen. The revered director became an object of vitriol a decade ago after two of his estranged children with ex-partner Mia Farrow – his adopted daughter Dylan and his biological son Ronan – reamplified Farrow’s 1992 claim that he had molested Dylan when she was seven. Almost immediately, it became “accepted wisdom” that Allen was a paedophile. When the 87-year-old filmmaker walked the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival last week, onlookers chanted: “No rape culture!”

Is this fair? Farrow made the allegation during the couple’s “deeply acrimonious” break-up over Allen’s affair with her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi (to whom he has since been married for nearly 30 years). There was no evidence of the alleged abuse. Ronan and Dylan’s psychologists said in 1993 that they didn’t believe the claim, while Allen and Farrow’s adopted son Moses has fiercely defended his father, saying Farrow “coached her children” to turn against him. And unlike in other well-known cases – Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, R Kelly – there were no “patterns of behaviour”. Allen is clearly no saint: his relationship with Soon-Yi was, to borrow a phrase, “unwise but not illegal”; so too his socialising with Jeffrey Epstein. But he was “as investigated as it’s possible to be”, and never charged. “And yet so many people continue to act as if it were otherwise.”