May 16, 2018 11:45 PM

A new documentary about Whitney Houston, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival Wednesday, has made stunning allegations about the icon’s early childhood.

In Whitney allegations that the late star was sexually abused by Dee Dee Warwick are brought forth. Warwick was Houston’s cousin and the sister of singer Dionne Warwick.

Dee Dee died in 2008, four years before Houston died after drowning in a bathtub, which was caused in part by heart disease and cocaine use.

Kevin Macdonald, the director of Whitney, told Indiewire that Houston’s half-brother, Gary Garland, told him he had been sexually abused as a child by Dee Dee and believed Houston had also been molested.

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Whitney Houston, Dee Dee Warwick
Jean Cummings/Fotos International/Getty; Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Garland agreed to appear on camera with his story. “He’s saying ‘I was abused by this person’ and told me, ‘I think she abused Whitney,'” Macdonald said. “Pat Houston [Gary’s wife], who’s here, told me that, yeah, Whitney had told her this but not given any details.”

The director said two months went by after he had spoken to Garland before Houston’s aunt, Mary Jones, spoke to him to confirm the singer had been abused.

The filmmaker, 50, said he decided to reach out to the singer’s family initially about the possibility that she had been abused after watching old footage of Houston.

There was something about her discomfort in her own skin, something about the way she presents or hides herself, her lack of overt sexuality,” Macdonald told the publication. “She’s this beautiful woman but she’s very closed in her demeanor.”

He added, “I’d been watching her for several months and saying to editors, ‘There’s something about her that reminds me of something.'”

 

Macdonald quickly realized what it reminded him of when he remembered a previous film he had been working on about child sexual abuse.

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“That led somebody to tell me, ‘Whitney told me she was abused,’ but they wouldn’t go on camera,” Macdonald said.

The filmmaker recounted the story to Deadline and said he had also reached out to Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown about the abuse.

“He claims not to know,” he told Indiewire. “I wouldn’t be surprised if [Houston] didn’t tell him. When you hear Mary Jones talking about it at the end, the shame that Whitney had about it, the fact that she couldn’t take to her own mother about it… I can’t imagine she would have gone there, but this is all supposition.”

Whitney is in theaters July 6.

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