NEW YORK (AFP) - Woody Allen battled to contain a growing backlash on Thursday (Jan 18) by accusing his ex-lover's family of "cynically" exploiting the Time's Up movement to repeat "discredited" child molestation allegations as his tearful daughter accused him of lying.
The 82-year-old issued the statement after his estranged, adopted daughter Dylan Farrow revived detailed claims that Allen sexually assaulted her as a seven-year-old girl, at her mother's Connecticut home in 1992, in her first full television interview.
"Even though the Farrow family is cynically using the opportunity afforded by the Time's Up movement to repeat this discredited allegation, that doesn't make it any more true today than it was in the past," said Allen in a statement.
"I never molested my daughter - as all investigations concluded a quarter of a century ago," he added.
Farrow has stood by her claim, which first surfaced in the wake of her parents' bitter split, when Allen left the actress and activist Mia Farrow for her adoptive daughter from a previous marriage, Soon-Yi Previn, 21 years old at the time.
Allen - the director of more than 50 movies, a four-times Oscar winner and showered with awards in Europe - has always denied the allegations, which have never been proven. He continues to enjoy a glittering career and remains married to Soon-Yi.
But the sexual harassment firestorm that has brought down Hollywood titans such as Harvey Weinstein, and rocked the United States has fuelled a growing backlash against Allen. In recent weeks, a growing number of actresses have announced they regret working with him.
Farrow says it is now time for the world to finally listen to the claims she has stood by for more than two decades.
"He's lying and he's been lying for so long," she told CBS This Morning in the interview that aired on Thursday, breaking down into tears when watching a clip of Allen denying the alleged assault.
Now a 32-year-old married mother of a young girl, Farrow said in retrospect she wished the case had gone to trial.
"Honestly, yes. I do wish that they had," she told CBS.
A Connecticut state prosecutor at the time found probable cause to charge Allen but thought Farrow too fragile to face a celebrity trial.
Farrow says her father took her to a small attic crawl space, instructed her to lay down on her stomach and play with her brother's toy train, while he sat behind in the doorway and touched her private parts.
"He was always touching me, cuddling me and if I ever said, you know, like I want to go off by myself, he wouldn't let me," she told CBS.
"He often asked me to get into bed with him when he had only his underwear on and sometimes when only I had my underwear on," she added.
Allen said Thursday the alleged molestation had been "thoroughly investigated" by the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital and New York State Child Welfare and that both "concluded that no molestation had ever taken place."
'CULTURE OF SILENCE'
"Instead, they found it likely a vulnerable child had been coached to tell the story by her angry mother during a contentious breakup," he said.
"What I don't understand is how is this crazy story of me being brainwashed and coached more believable than what I'm saying about being sexually assaulted by my father?" hit back Farrow.
The New York judge who presided over the 1994 custody battle between Allen and Mia Farrow ruled that the allegations were inconclusive, but at the same time lambasted the director as "self-absorbed, untrustworthy and insensitive."
In recent weeks, a growing number of actresses, including Greta Gerwig, Rebecca Hall, Ellen Page and Mira Sorvino, have announced they regret working with Allen.
"I believe Dylan," Oscar-winner Natalie Portman told Oprah Winfrey in a recent group interview with others who included Reese Witherspoon.
Hall and the actor Timothee Chalamet, who appear in Allen's upcoming movie A Rainy Day In New York, have announced that they will donate their salaries from the film to charities including the Time's Up movement.
Farrow has called out celebrities who have starred in Allen's films, but denied to CBS that she was angry with them.
Instead she expressed hope that they could "maybe hold themselves accountable to how they have perpetuated this culture of - of silence in their industry."