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Why Woody Allen Wasn't Prosecuted after Abuse Allegations by Daughter

02/02/2014 at 09:50 AM EST

Woody Allen Wasn't Prosecuted after Abuse Allegations by Daughter -- Here's Why
Woody Allen
Marc Piasecki/WireImage
It had been, she says, a private ordeal.

"For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like," Dylan Farrow writes to the New York Times, detailing for the first time the abuse she says she endured at the hands of her adoptive father Woody Allen. Finally, she writes, when she was 7 years old, "I couldn't keep the secret any more. ... I asked my mother if her dad did to her what Woody Allen did to me."

Soon, Dylan's allegations went public – very public. They became a battleground in her mother Mia Farrow's bitter custody war with Allen. And Connecticut prosecutors launched a criminal investigation against Allen.

But in a controversial move, state's attorney Frank S. Maco announced in 1993 that while he found "probable cause" to prosecute Allen, he was dropping the case because Dylan was too "fragile" to deal with a trial. Mia agreed with the decision, he said.

Dylan was "traumatized to the extent that I did not have a confident witness to testify in any court setting, whether that's a closed courtroom or an open courtroom," Maco recalled to PEOPLE last fall after Dylan spoke out to Vanity Fair about the alleged molestation.

A Manhattan judge had already awarded Mia full custody of adopted children Dylan, Moses and biological son Satchel (who later changed his name to Ronan), and barred Allen from any visitation with Dylan in the custody case, which had exploded after Allen's affair with Farrow's adopted daughter Soon-Yi, then about 20, was revealed.

Allen, who vehemently denied the charges, lambasted Maco for saying that there was "probable cause," saying he had no opportunity to defend himself. His complaints led to disciplinary charges against Maco, which were eventually dropped.

Maco stands by his decision. Dylan's recent openness "does not change anything about my feelings as to the correctness of my words and actions back in '92 and '93," he said last fall. "I had to first and foremost consider the child."

Why Woody Allen Wasn't Prosecuted after Abuse Allegations by Daughter| Crime & Courts, Mia Farrow, Woody Allen

Mia Farrow and Woody Allen with baby Satchel (now named Ronan) and adopted daughter Dylan.

David Mcgough / DMI / Time Life Pictures / Getty

As part of the case, a team of investigators at Yale-New Haven Hospital had studied Dylan's accusations and concluded that no sexual abuse had taken place and described Dylan as having "difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality."

But the custody judge had termed Allen's conduct with Dylan "grossly inappropriate," and Maco said he saw no evidence that Mia was manipulating Dylan.

Maco doesn't see Dylan's detailed accounts as vindication of his suspicions – or as criticism that he didn't pursue the case. "I take it as ... it's just a feeling of compassion, as any other parent would have," he said, "about what she is speaking about and reliving and telling."

• With reporting by K.C. Baker

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