Veracity of molestation claims introduced during custody/divorce battles?

I’m not a Woody Allen fan by any stretch and I think his personal decisions re dating and marrying the young adult daughter of this girlfriend shows extremely bad form. Having said this the context the molestation accusations were made in re the pitched betrayal/custody/etc battle he was having with Mia Farrow are exactly the kind of context where accusations motivated out of spite and a desire to get leverage and to punish will arise. If sufficiently agitated some people will have absolutely no compunction about making stuff up.

Having been though my own divorce decades ago I am familiar with the aspect of false accusations being pulled out of thin air to get leverage. When my ex’s divorce attorney finally figured out that my ex had cashed and spent all my commission paychecks and that there was not a pile of dragon’s gold hidden somewhere she corralled her nonsense and all the claims about hidden money mysteriously vanished.

Are there any statistics as to the veracity of molestation claims introduced during custody battles?

I doubt that anyone has compiled such statistics, due to, as you note, the ephemeral nature of such claims, given that they are made for the purpose of gaining leverage. It’s the same tactic the cops use when they arrest someone and charge him with seventeen different crimes–the accused is likely to see the eventual reduction of the charges to the thing he actually did as some kind of relief. So the idea is to elicit the (properly indignant) response from the husband, with the idea that any other demands/threats (such as to turn over all of his assets at once) will then seem less dire by comparison. It’s blackmail, in other words.

I would guess that the percentage of such accusations that are sincere is 0.000000003, though I could be a bit high.

I don’t know about the special case of molestation charges in divorce cases, but a bit of Googling finds this citeabout falsity of abuse charges, which claims a rate of false allegations of 2-10% or so.

Note that this is about reports of sexual abuse from children. I can’t tell if this cite includes false reports from children who were coached by adults to make the charges, as I expect would be the case in divorce/custody battles.

The nasty thing about this kind of charge in a custody battle is that the child will be placed either with a parent who molested him or her, or a parent who is willing to make that kind of a accusation.


Sometimes abuse isn’t reported earlier because there is a hope (denial) by the reporting parent that it can be fixed. If only she were a more appealing spouse; if only he could just get more interested in women his age; if only she just can watch him more closely.

People want to wait and avoid scandal (and possible loss of income) by trying the home cure. Then when it appears the family is not going to survive the strain intact the anger comes out and the secret is told.

I read in “Vanity Fair” that Mia was giving instructions to babysitters while the children were still little that they should never be left alone with their father. And that Woody had been in theapy for inappropriate behavior toward Dylan before allegations were ever reported to authorities. That’s a little telling I think.

I thought that making unfounded accusations of sexual abuse, especially if the kids themselves deny it ever happened, can get the accuser in as much trouble as if the perpetrator had done it themselves.

I can, however, think of one situation where false accusations, while not justified (they never are) can be understandable, and that’s a father in dire need of a clue-by-four when lesser measures have failed. I’m thinking in particular of a family I know of whose husband and father immersed himself into civic and volunteer opportunities as a way of dodging family responsibilities, and he finally Got It when their teenage daughter threatened to do this if he didn’t give some of it up. :eek: I’m sure there had to be more to the story, and really, if he was that unhappy with his family life that he was going to totally neglect them, maybe he should have moved out. YMMV, of course. And if you’ve ever seen the TV show “Hoarders”, I could see kids doing that too. Whether it would work on a mother is not as clear-cut.

BTW, if a person is involved with someone with whom they don’t want their kids left alone, that relationship is not worth salvaging under any circumstances.

Are you saying that there was a man who really enjoyed volunteering his time at, say Habitat for Humanity or the local soup kitchen? And his daughter threatened to falsely claim he molested her unless he cut it out? And that’s the understandable case for knowingly false molestation claims?

Because that’s what it sounds like you’re saying.

I’m glad you don’t think it’s justified; I’m just failing to see what part is understandable.

Not if said guy is being a deadbeat dad. If he’s blowing off say, visitations and promised outtings to go and volunteer, then yeah, that’s being irresponsible. If he claims he can’t afford to pay child support but is giving all his money to charity, then that’s a big problem. Just because you’re doing GOOD things elsewhere doesn’t mean you get to ignore your kids.

But does it mean its understandable to falsely accuse him of molestation?

Of course not. But neither is it understandable that being charitable excuses neglecting his children.

The daughter’s attitude was, “If you don’t want to be at home, I could fix things so you CAN’T come home.” We’re talking about EVERY evening, leaving immediately after dinner and not coming home until after the kids were asleep, and EVERY weekend day, ALL day, leaving early in the morning and also not coming home until after the kids were in bed. No, he wasn’t doing any of it WITH the wife and kids, either. And yes, this really is what he was doing and not holed up somewhere with a mistress. IDK what his wife had tried to do about this; it’s always possible that she didn’t really mind because she didn’t want him around. Who knows, really? But the kids certainly didn’t like it.

I have a relative who went through a very nasty divorce some years back, and she considered playing the sexual abuse card, but the kids were old enough to say that their father did not molest them, and they weren’t going to play along with that game. :eek: AFAIK, she never told her lawyer that she was thinking about this. Interestingly, the kids are estranged, most likely permanently, from their father AND his entire side of the family, and nobody will tell me why except that it’s for the best. If she was willing to stoop that low, I probably don’t want to know what happened anyway.

Yeah, I wonder how many times people told his wife, “You are SO lucky to have him.”

Well, the allegations against Woody Allen are not new.

Having missed the edit deadline, I should add that for a few years, they did 50/50 physical custody (THIS NEVER WORKS OUT, PEOPLE!) and truthfully, there was a period where I honestly think those kids would have been better off in foster care. Someone else told me, “You are aware that if a child was not sexually abused when it goes into foster care, it almost certainly will be by the time it leaves, don’t you?” and I replied, “Yes, I do know that, and they still would have been better off.” BTW, all along, they’ve always thought she was Da Bomb of moms.

He wasn’t divorced. He was married to the kids’ mom.

IDK what their family’s status is now, but it sure was a wake-up call for him at the time. :frowning:

The sexual abuse card, jesus hearing about these people is disgusting.

The paradox of abuse allegations is that the circumstances that give rise to false allegations are the same circumstances that also give rise to true ones. Family breakups are one example (troubled kids are another).

There are a lot of women who make up false accusations against their husbands in divorce situations. But there are also a lot who were in denial about their husbands’ pedophilia until they break up with them. And there are also some who are in the dark but become suspicious once their opinion of their spouses dips, and sometimes there’s something there.

There’s less to these than meets the eye, IMO.

It’s unclear at which point Mia gave these instructions.

And Woody Allen is a man who spent decades of his life in therapy for various real or imagined neuroses. So it’s not like him being in therapy for something is indicative of a serious issue as might be the case for others.

I don’t know if I would take the fact that he has been in therapy for decades as evidence that it is nothing serious. Maybe his neuroses are not all imagined.

I have no idea if he molested Dylan or not. The fact that he got involved with his girl friend’s daughter, who was decades younger than he, is creepy enough.

It’s like Roman Polanski - making great movies is not enough to excuse anything.



His history of therapy not evidence that it’s nothing serious. But it means that the therapy in and of itself is not such evidence that it was something serious. Because it might be that he had serious issues and this was one of them. But it also might be that he had one big issue, that being a strong compunction to get therapy for all sorts of things.

Whereas someone with no history of therapy suddenly getting therapy for a specific issue might be a stronger sign that that issue is a big deal.

Yes, but overall we must guard against the prejudice that anyone in therapy is therefore suspect of anything and everything, 'cause, y’know, they’re in THERAPY!