Prosecutor in Dylan Farrow's Sexual Abuse Allegation Case Against Woody Allen Reveals Why He Believes Her

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Dylan Farrow
Dylan Farrow

Courtesy of HBO Dylan Farrow

For years, now-retired Connecticut state's attorney Frank Maco worried about how Dylan Farrow fared in the years after she made the shocking accusation that her adoptive father, director Woody Allen, had sexually abused her as a child.

Maco also wondered what Dylan thought of the difficult, controversial and highly publicized decision he made in 1993 as Litchfield County state's attorney not to prosecute the Oscar-winning filmmaker, even though he said he had found probable cause to arrest and try him.

Putting Dylan on the stand in 1993 would have further traumatized a 7-year-old child he recalls to PEOPLE as "completely withdrawn, with simply a frozen stare on her face, who would not open up at all to me."

If she froze up in court, which he believed she would do, he thought a judge would have either dismissed the case — or acquitted Allen.

RELATED: Allen v. Farrow Filmmakers Respond to Woody Allen and Detail the 'Hard' Process of Interviewing Mia Farrow

"This child would now live the rest of her life knowing she got her day in court, but that because she froze, that he receives an acquittal or a dismissal," he says.

In 1993, Maco told Dylan's mother, actress Mia Farrow, that if her daughter ever wanted to meet with him to find out why he made the decision he did, he would gladly do so.

For more about Dylan Farrow, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

That day came in September of 2020, when Maco met with Dylan, now a 35-year-old writer, when they reunited to shoot a scene for the HBO docuseries, Allen v. Farrow.

In one of the four-part film's most moving moments, Maco and Dylan sit at a table in the yard of the upstate Connecticut home where she grew up and discuss his decision not to put her on the stand.

When they met in 2020, Dylan admitted to him that she wished she had been braver.

"She said, 'I blame myself. I wasn't strong enough,'" he recalls of their interaction.

"And I said, 'Dylan, I never want to hear you say that to me. You were a child. If anything, blame me. I made the decision. I opted for that. You could always point to me and say, 'that prosecutor didn't prosecute.'"

Tearing up, he says she told him, "I just needed to hear that."

Vociferous Denials from Allen

Allen, now 85, has vehemently denied abusing Dylan ever since the allegations first surfaced in 1992.

Allen said that his ex-girlfriend, Mia, now 76, coerced their adopted daughter, Dylan, to lie about abuse because she was furious that he'd had an affair with her older adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. Allen and Previn wed in 1997 and have two children.

He'd also said that Mia coerced Dylan into accusing him of abuse to gain custody of Dylan and their biological son Satchel, now known as journalist Ronan Farrow, whose investigative reporting on sexual assault allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein for The New Yorker won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for public service and helped usher in the #MeToo movement.

An evaluation of Dylan by Yale-New Haven Hospital's child sexual abuse clinic concluded that Dylan was not sexually abused by Allen and may have been coached or influenced by her mother—though Dylan and experts criticize the clinic's methods in the documentary.

Mia has steadfastly denied coercing Dylan into lying about abuse and later won custody.

Allen fought back in other ways. Equating Maco's finding of probable cause in the case to a "conviction of me in the media," he said at the time, he sought disciplinary action against the prosecutor in the state of Connecticut.

RELATED: Mia Farrow Says She's 'Scared' of Woody Allen in HBO Doc Detailing His Alleged Child Abuse

In 1997, after several years of disciplinary hearings, a state panel dismissed the complaint.

Not surprisingly, Allen and Previn have also slammed the documentary, calling it "a hatchet job riddled with falsehoods."

Having sifted carefully through all of the evidence, Maco says of Dylan, "I believe her."

He also saw the home video that is shown for the first time ever in the docuseries, in which Dylan is seen telling her mother how Allen allegedly "touched my privates" in the attic of their country home, and how uncomfortable that made her.

Having viewed the video when he was prosecutor, he says, "I defy anyone to say that Mia Farrow controlled this child at any point. If you look at that tape with the child and how the child is speaking, these are not words of a child that is manipulated or is being controlled by the mother.

"I saw Mia as a concerned mother."

Now that the video has been shown to the world, he says, "This is for the public to make their decisions. As to why I believe Dylan? Hey, look at the tape. You tell me. Who do you believe?"

A Resilient Woman

Calling his fall 2020 meeting with Dylan emotional," he says he's proud of the person she's become. "She's matured into a strong woman, a dedicated woman," he says.

He also wondered what Dylan's husband thought of his decision — and how that affected him.

"Other than Dylan, the two people who had the right to say, 'Maco, why didn't you prosecute the case?' would have been Mia Farrow and second, Dylan's husband [Sean]," he says. "Her husband could have come up to me and said, 'You know Maco, what you did to my wife, the damage, the scarring…' "

While Maco was talking to Dylan that day in Connecticut, Sean drove to the house with their baby daughter.

"He had the baby while production is going on," he says. "Her husband came up, gave the baby off to Dylan. Dylan left me and the husband now approached me. He said, 'Mr. Maco, I've always wanted to meet you. I understand what you did. I understand why you did it. And I support what you did.' "

Maco recalls feeling shocked. "I said, 'You don't know how meaningful that is to me personally, coming from you, that you understand what I did.'"

He shares that not everyone understands, however.

"It's now 30 years," he says. "I'm still defending myself."

As a successful prosecutor, he tried precedent-setting sexual abuse and spousal abuse cases, but this case still haunts him, even today.

"That fella in New York," he said, referring to actor Alec Baldwin, "said I was a villain," he says.

In February, Baldwin defended Allen in a tweet, writing about Maco.

"If u thought he was guilty, u bring the case!" Baldwin tweeted. "You don't condemn someone to a life of innuendo and ruin his life and those of his family. Maco is among the villains here. He should have brought the charges, or shut up."

Shrugging off the criticisms, Maco says, "Well, that's nothing. I've had supporters of Allen on a blog say, 'For what you did to Woody Allen, you should burn in hell.' I know I responded at some point, saying, 'Well, you'll probably get your wish, but it's not because of what I did. It's not going to be because of what I did to Woody Allen.' "

Maco says he has no regrets: "I will gladly fight and die on this hill because I am convinced that I did the right thing."

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.