Aaliyah's Mother Slams Claim R. Kelly Had Sex with Underaged Singer: 'Lies'
In the first episode of Surviving, airing Thursday at 9 p.m., former backup singer/dancer Jovante Cunningham gives a tearful interview claiming that she once witnessed Kelly have sex with underaged Aaliyah on a tour bus full of entourage members.
“We were all laying in our bunks and the curtains are open, everybody’s communicating, laughing, when the [room] door flew open on the bus. Robert was having sex with Aaliyah,” she claims in the documentary, describing what she saw as “Things that an adult should not be doing with a child.”
Aaliyah’s mother Diane Haughton took to social media, posting a statement to the official Aaliyah Twitter account, denying the allegation that any such thing could have happened.
“My husband and I were always on tour with [Aaliyah] and at interviews and every place she went throughout her entire career,” the statement reads. “Whoever this woman is [who is making the allegations], I have never seen her before anywhere on planet earth, until now.”
Calling the account “lies and fabrications,” the statement continues: “My daughter only wanted to realize her dream of sharing her talent with the world, and give her all performing on stage and in front of the camera for the fans she adored so much. She realized that dream, thanks to those true fans who still love and support her legacy unconditionally to this day. Shame on all those involved in this project who thought it kosher to drag Aaliyah’s name into a situation that has nothing to do with her today. Once again, this will not be tolerated.”
Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22.
In the wake of Haughton’s statement Cunningham stood by her account, releasing the following statement to PEOPLE:
“It’s unfortunate that there are still people trying to protect Robert when they know he has destroyed so many people’s lives. I loved Aaliyah and when people watch the documentary, they will see how much I cared for her and how much Robert’s actions deeply affected me and so many others.”
The shocking 6-part docu-series is built upon wide-ranging interviews with R. Kelly’s family members, former friends and colleagues, but most notably, women who claim that for decades the hit-making singer and producer used his power and influence to sexually and physically abuse women and young girls.
Representatives for R. Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, responded “no comment” to PEOPLE’s request for a response to the allegations made in Surviving R. Kelly and interviews with alleged victims in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands now. According to TMZ, Kelly’s lawyer Brian Nix has threatened to sue Lifetime network if it airs the documentary.
In a statement to PEOPLE the network says, “Lifetime has always been a brand that champions women’s stories. The documentary will air as scheduled, starting tonight at 9pm ET/PT.”
In 2002 Kelly was indicted after a video surfaced allegedly showing a man engaged in sex acts with a woman who some witnesses testified was 14 at the time of the recording. Both R. Kelly and the woman denied that the video was of them, and R. Kelly was never charged with assault. In 2008, R. Kelly was found not guilty on 21 counts of child pornography.
A report from BuzzFeed News released in July 2017 alleged that R. Kelly has kept at least six women in his Chicago and Georgia properties who allegedly fulfill his desires and are punished if they break any of his “rules.” Amid these allegations — which have never led to formal charges — women’s rights organization Time’s Up along with stars like Ava DuVernay and John Legend have called for a boycott of his music with #MuteRKelly.
For more powerful stories from alleged victims of R. Kelly, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands now.
Surviving R. Kelly airs on Lifetime at 9 p.m. ET from Thursday, Jan. 3 through Saturday, Jan. 5.
If you or someone you know think they are being abused, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now for anonymous, confidential help, available 24/7.