NEW YORK -- Woody Allen filed suit for custody of his three children after his estranged lover and leading lady Mia Farrow charged him with child abuse and said she had a video tape to back up her claim, a spokeswoman for the actor-director said Wednesday.
Leslee Dart said Allen was aware that a video tape exists which purports to support the actress' claim of child abuse and this was one of the reasons he sought custody of his biological son by Farrow and their two adopted children.
The spokeswoman said Allen considered the situationcreated by Farrow had resulted in a 'horrendous' home situation for his children, who are living with their mother at her country house in Bridgetown, Conn.
Allen considered it 'unconscionable and deplorable' that Farrow would release the tape to anyone except the proper authorities, in this case the Connecticut State Police which are investigating her claim with the aid of New York authorities, Dart said. Tuesday, Fox-TV News reporter Rosanna Scotto reported she was sent a copy of thge tape by Farrow and it showed her questioning her adopted daughter, Dylan, 7, about her relations with her father.
Scotto said the child appeared to be 'nervous and shaken.' Scotto said the tape 'seemed to support Farrow's allegations of abuse.'
Fox said it chose not to broadcast it because of its 'highly sensitive' nature. It said both Allen's and Farrow's attorneys had requested the tape not be shown.
'Because of Miss Farrow's outrageous charge, Mr. Allen felt that the environment in her home was horrendous and unhealthy for the children and this forced him to ask for their custody,' Dart said. 'He felt their welfare was in jeopardy.'
Dart noted that Allen's attorneys had informed him that false accusations of child abuse have been grounds for removal of children from the custody of the parent making the allegations in similar cases.
In a rare public apearance at a press conference Tuesday, Allen denied he had sexually molested his adopted daughter and son, Moses, and blamed the charges on a jealous Farrow, whom he accused of 'ruthlessly manipulating innocent children for vindictive and self-serving purposes. '
The 56-year-old Allen said his only guilt was 'falling in love with Miss Farrow's adult daughter,' 21-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, and said the small children he adopted with Farrow 'do not deserve this form of retribution.'
Last Thursday, Allen filed a motion in state Supreme Court seeking sole custody of the couple's adopted son, Moses, 14, Dylan, and their biological son, Satchel, 4. Both sides were scheduled to appear in court Aug. 25.
Farrow, 46, has seven other children, most of them adopted.
Tuesday, Allen told a packed news conference at the Hotel Plaza that attorneys representing Farrow had demanded $7 million, in return for which they would not press the molestation charges and would make the children 'unavailable to authorities.'
'Needless to say, I did not accept this offer of 'mediation' as it was called, and have instructed my lawyers to cooperate fully in the investigation Miss Farrow has instigated,' he said.
Farrow's attorney, Alan Dershowitz, denied the charges and said the allegations of abuse were brought to authorities by a Connecticut doctor, not by Farrow, and it was not until later that Allen's custody suit was filed.
Dr. Vadakkekara Kavirajan of New Milford, Conn., said in a TV interview that he had made a report 'as required by state law' but refused to discuss it further.
'Mr. Allen's custody suit is 'the card' his lawyers are playing in an effort to deflect attention away from the ongoing investigations of his conduct,' said Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor who defended Leona Helmsley and Claus von Bulow.
Dershowitz denied there was ever any demand for $7 million 'or any other sum of money.'
Monday, Allen announced he was in love with Soon-Yi Previn, adopted by Farrow and her second husband, symphonic conductor Andre Previn, when she was a small child.
Previn told the New York Post that his vocabulary wasn't colorful enough 'to tell you what I think of the affair.'
'My opinion of (Allen) gets lower by the day,' he said. 'I would have wished a lot better for her (Soon-Yi).'
Allen said his attorneys have told him that child molestation charges are 'a popular, though heinous card' played in many child custody fights. They also pointed out that when such charges prove to be false, the parent making them often has lost custody of the children.
'The tragedy of programming one's child to coooperate is unspeakable,' he said.
Allen said the charge involving Moses has 'quietly vanished' because 'its substance was too insane even for the instigators to stay with.'