Dylan Farrow’s “open letter” accusations of sexual abuse against Woody Allen in the February 1 edition of the New York Times awakened the proverbial sleeping dog. As we said in a previous post, we don’t know who’s lying in this matter, but as attorneys, we always find allegations of child sexual abuse in acrimonious divorce proceedings highly suspect. The leveling of false allegations in these kinds of cases is not a rare occurrence. It happens far more than the general public cares to recognize—and reputable study after study supports our assessment.
But that is not the purpose of this blog. Our issue here is with former Litchfield State’s Attorney Frank S. Maco. The former Connecticut prosecutor, who had ample opportunity to prosecute Allen in 1993 but failed to do so, is outraged at what he considers to be a slanderous assault on his personal character in Allen’s response letter published in the Times on February 7.
All Allen said in his letter was this: “… The district attorney was chomping at the bit to prosecute a celebrity case …”
That’s it. Nothing more. The former State’s Attorney has since gotten himself into such a high dudgeon over this isolated, inconsequential statement that he was cited in a February 10, 2014 article by John Pirro in Danbury News Times as saying he was considering “seeking legal representation to address what he called a personal, unprovoked assault on his character.”
There is a “history” between Allen and Maco. After the former prosecutor announced in a September 24, 1993 news conference that he would not pursue criminal charges against Allen, although he said he had “probable cause” to do so, Allen filed a grievance against Maco with the Statewide Grievance Commission charging misconduct. The Commission, as well as the Criminal Justice Commission (which appoints state prosecutors) failed to take any “disciplinary action” against Maco.
More than two decades later Dylan Farrow, for whatever reason, decided revive the allegations. Allen naturally responded in his own “open letter” to the stale allegations, having passed a polygraph test (and we’re not sure if Dylan has ever undergone such a test) and being cleared by a prominent team of medical experts.
And in his response, and for argument we concede Allen ever so slightly slighted the thin-skinned prosecutor, Maco immediately joined the public fray with utterly outlandish observations that probably pleased only the prosecutorial community.
“The attack upon my character was unprovoked, gratuitous, unwarranted and most importantly, unsupported by my history as a prosecutor,” Maco was quoted in the Danbury paper. “For me to sit silently in the face of this assault would do nothing less than betray the encouragement and support of so many, especially those who stood by me for the better part of five years of my career defending against Allen’s disciplinary complaint’s—all of which were dismissed.”
It seems arguable that if it took the disciplinary committees five years to investigate Allen’s misconduct claims, then they must have had some colorable basis. They certainly were not invalid on their face.
That being said, at the time of his decision not to prosecute, Maco said he had “probable cause” to prosecute Allen, but chose not to do so. He made that decision because, as he said, he wanted to “spare” Dylan from having to testify in open court.
If that is the extent of his basis not to prosecute, we believe that decision was a disservice to the community. Prosecutors often prosecute cases against the wishes of the victim, or victim’s family, and to use that as an excuse not to prosecute a violent crime did the victim, the suspect and the public a disservice. We can only conclude Maco had other serious problems with proving his case.
A serious allegation of child sexual abuse was leveled. Maco said he had “probable cause” to prosecute. If he believed this, he should have let a jury decide Allen’s guilt or innocence. His failure to do so foreclosed any current outrage he may have about an unprovoked “assault” on his character. He shot himself in the foot with his “professional” decision not to prosecute.
Whatever else can be said about this “sordid affair,” Maco’s immature overreaction to Allen’s casual slight far exceeds the slight itself. We call B.S. … The prosecutor doth protest too much, me thinks.