The Woody Allen Controversy Reader: (3) Debunking Maureen Orth’s “Undeniable Facts About The Woody Allen Sexual-Abuse Allegation” — Examining Orth’s False Claims About The Role of Lie Detector Tests In The Case

This is an excerpt of a larger and more complete essay that debunks Maureen Orth’s false and misleading article “10 Undeniable Facts About The Woody Allen Sexual-Abuse Allegation”. This particular section focuses on Orth’s third supposedly “undeniable fact” — her misleading claim that Allen “refused to take a polygraph administered by the Connecticut state police”, and that Mia Farrow was “never asked to take a lie-detector test during the investigation”.

Here is Orth’s precise contention as stated in her article:

3. Allen refused to take a polygraph administered by the Connecticut state police. Instead, he took one from someone hired by his legal team. The Connecticut state police refused to accept the test as evidence. The state attorney, Frank Maco, says that Mia was never asked to take a lie-detector test during the investigation.

Utter, complete nonsense.

Allen was never asked to take a polygraph by the Connecticut state police, as Allen’s attorney at the time confirmed. Orth refuses to specifically name even one source to back up what she refers to as an “undeniable fact”.

However, Allen did voluntarily submit to a lie detector test that was administered by one of the most respected polygraph examiners in the nation — Paul Minor, who had been the chief polygraph examiner for both the Army and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Minor had also been responsible for administering the polygraph test for Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings as well as many others who had specifically been accused of sexual crimes.

Allen volunteered to take the test the week of August 14th, 1992, almost immediately after the allegations against him went public. The following week, one of Allen’s attorneys announced to the press that he had passed it.

“The Connecticut state police refused to accept the test as evidence.”

No kidding. Do you know why? Because polygraph tests are never admissible as evidence in court. Ever.

This rule has been consistently and explicitly upheld by Connecticut courts for decades.

So of course police “refused to accept the test as evidence”. No matter who administered the test under whatever the circumstances were or what the outcome was, police are forbidden from “accepting” polygraph tests as “evidence”. 
 
Orth surely knows this and it only serves as yet another example of her disingenuous word games. 
 
Informally however, such tests can influence how vigorously and where investigators might focus an ongoing investigation. Thus Allen’s passing of his lie detector test still unquestionably added to the other wealth of evidence casting doubt on the claims, which is why he was never charged in the first place.

It is also important to point out the fact that, to the extent that polygraph tests are unreliable as evidence, it is far more common for them to show “false positives” (meaning situations where innocent people wrongly fail the test) rather than rarer instance of a “false negative” (situations where undeniably guilty people still end up passing the test). That is naturally why defense attorneys usually advise their clients not to take such tests, even if they believe them to be innocent. 
 
Ask yourself this question: If Allen had taken the test under the exact same circumstances that he did and failed it, would Allen’s critics still be criticizing it as unreliable or noting the fact that the police refused to accept it as “evidence”? Of course not. They would be using it as Exhibit A as their “proof” of Allen’s guilt. But because it conflicts with their preconceived assumptions of guilt, they feel free to dismiss it.

The hypocrisy here is astounding.

“The state attorney, Frank Maco, says that Mia was never asked to take a lie-detector test during the investigation.”

Again — this is another lie. Mia wasn’t asked to take a lie detector test by Maco or police authorities (just as Allen hadn’t been asked), but she most certainly was asked to take such a test by Allen himself. Mia simply refused to do so.

So the only true undeniable fact in this instance that we can all agree on is that Allen took and passed a lie detector test, while Mia Farrow refused to take one.