NEW YORK - Legendary film director Woody Allen hit back Sunday at his adopted daughter's allegations of sexual abuse during her youth, calling them "untrue and disgraceful."
In a strongly-worded statement, Allen's New York publicist emphasised that the film-maker had never faced criminal charges over the claims and that court-appointed experts had decided there was no credible evidence of molestation.
"Mr Allen has read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful," publicist Leslee Dart said, adding that the director would be responding "very soon."
The statement came one day after Dylan Farrow, adopted by Allen during his relationship with actress Mia Farrow, spoke in detail for the first time about the alleged abuse inflicted on her by her father.
In an open letter on a New York Times blog, the 28-year-old said she was abused by Allen as a seven-year-old.
"He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother's electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me," Farrow wrote.
She suggested that other abuse may have started even earlier, saying: "For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn't like."
The unproven allegations first emerged in the aftermath of Allen's acrimonious split with Mia Farrow in 1992. The director has always vigorously denied abusing his adopted daughter.
Dart on Sunday stressed that an investigation by court-appointed independent experts at the time found no evidence of wrongdoing.
"The experts concluded there was no credible evidence of molestation, that Dylan Farrow had an inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality, and that Dylan Farrow had likely been coached by her mother Mia Farrow," Dart said. Allen, 78, left Mia Farrow after starting a relationship with the actress's adopted daughter from a previous marriage, Soon-Yi Previn.
A New York judge in the 1994 custody battle between Allen and Farrow ruled that the abuse allegations were inconclusive, but at the same time lambasted the director as "self-absorbed, untrustworthy and insensitive."
Hollywood's silence criticised
The younger Farrow accused the Hollywood establishment of sweeping Allen's alleged crimes under the carpet by continuing to honour his films.
Dylan may have tainted Allen's image, but the director pursued a career spanning some 50 years, more than 40 movies, 24 Oscar nominations, four Oscar wins and many more prizes.
He is now chasing an Oscar that would be his fifth for his latest film, "Blue Jasmine."
The film has scored three nods from the Academy Awards for next month's ceremony.
Despite his wins at the Academy Awards, Allen has repeatedly refused to attend the ceremony or acknowledge his wins. He also received in January a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes.
Farrow called on three of the stars of "Blue Jasmine" - Australian actress Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin and Louis C.K. - to examine their relationship with Allen, asking pointedly: "What if it had been your child?"
"Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime. That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up," she wrote.
"That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, 'who can say what happened,' to pretend that nothing was wrong.
"Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines.
"Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse."