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Judge: Why did city intervene in Mia-Woody case?

By TRACEY L. MILLER

NEW YORK -- A former city welfare worker testified Monday he was assigned to investigate Mia Farrow's charges of child abuse against Woody Allen because agency officials felt they were obligated to do so, even though Connecticut authorities already had launched their own probe.

Paul Williams, a witness at the child custody trial involving Farrow and Allen's three children, had accused 'higher ups' in the Child Welfare Department last February of dropping the investigation of Farrow's allegation that Allen had sexually molested his adopted daughter, Dylan, 7, at her Connecticut home last Aug. 4 because they believed the charge 'unfounded.'

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Williams spent nearly three hours on the stand detailing his involvement in the case, including interviews with Dylan, Allen, Farrow and others. The trial was then recessed until April 27.

Williams and other child welfare staffers had spent from Aug. 10 to December investigating the allegation, which was finally put on hold until a parallel investigation by Connecticut State Police, now in its ninth month, is completed.

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'Why would New York want to put the child through this again?' asked state Supreme Court Justice Elliott Wilk, referring to William's interrogation of Dylan and others about her experiences with her father.

'What interest did the state and city of New York have to put the child through this twice?' he added. 'You know the child was put through pain in the Connecticut investigation. Why not permit the child to experience the pain just once in Connecticut? Why do anything except defer to the finds of the state of Connecticut?'

Williams, testifying for Farrow, tried to explain that Dylan lived primarily in New York City and New York needed to know what action to take to protect her. He added that the child's credibility also needed to be assessed.

'We were still obligated,' Williams replied. 'The state gave us primary responsibility.'

The reply did not satisfy Wilk, who commented that his questions were 'frankly not getting answered.'

At this point Eleanor Alter, an attorney for Farrow, interrupted, saying she had discussed the case with both Connecticut and New York authorities.

'The problem was some behavior -- not criminal -- occurred in New York and there were witnesses in New York,' she said, noting there were charges Connecticut could not investigate on its own.

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'That may be your sense, but the sense I get from Paul Williams is that the city gets this report (of alleged abuse) and goes full steam ahead,' Wilk observed.

Williams also testified that in an interview with Allen and his attorney, the actor-director refused to answer any questions regarding his admitted romance with another of Farrow's adopted children, Soon-Yi Previn, 22 or to account for his whereabouts on Aug. 4, 1992, the date of the alleged abuse, or the following day.

The trial, now in its second month, will decide whether Allen gets sole custody of Dylan, another adopted child, Moses, 15, and his biological son with Farrow, Satchel, 5. Farrow has opposed his application for custody and her allegation of abuse has become a key issue in the bitter court battle.

Allen has claimed his affair with Soon-Yi shouldn't count against him because he never acted as a father toward Farrow's six biological and adopted children dating from her marriage to orchestra conductor Andre Previn.

Allen is seeking custody only of children acquired during his 13-year romance with Farrow, not including an infant, Isaiah, acquired by Farrow since her breakup with Allen early last year.

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