Kevin Mazur/WireImage; Jason Merritt/FilmMagic
by Lena Grossman | Wed., Jan. 2, 2019 5:23 PM
Kevin Mazur/WireImage; Jason Merritt/FilmMagic
A former back-up performer named Jovante Cunningham alleges in the new Lifetime docu-series Surviving R. Kelly that she saw Aaliyah and the rapper having sex. At the time of the supposed encounter, R. Kelly was 27 and Aaliyah 15.
In the first episode, Cunningham described what she purportedly witnessed between the two while on tour. "We were out on the road with Aaliyah," she said. "On a tour bus, there really aren't many confined spaces. When you get on the bus there are bunks and so these bunks have little curtains you can pull at night if you don't want anybody to see you sleeping."
She explained that people on tour were "laughing" and at one moment, "The door flew open on the bus. Robert was having sex with Aaliyah." R. Kelly's real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly.
What she apparently saw amounted to "Things that an adult should not be doing with a child."
Haughton spoke out on Wednesday and called Cunningham a "liar."
"The woman and so-called back up singer that describes seeing, meeting or ever breathing the same air as my daughter, Aaliyah, is lying and is a liar," Haughton said in a statement to E! News. "My husband and I were always on tour with her and at interviews and every place she went throughout her entire career. Whoever this woman is, I have never seen her before anywhere on planet earth, until now."
Haughton then called Cunningham's claims "lies and fabrications" that "can not be tolerated and allowed to be spewed from the forked tongues of saboteurs of Aaliyah's legacy."
She continued, "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."
One of R. Kelly's former personal assistants Demetrius Smith claims in the Lifetime series that the "Ignition" rapper and Aaliyah got married when she was 15. Smith said he got "papers forged for them when Aaliyah was underage."
The "Try Again" singer died in 2001 after a plane crash in the Bahamas. She was 22.
Rex Features via AP Images
In July 2017, a feature by BuzzFeed News alleged that the rapper was holding women hostage in a "cult" against their will. Some parents of the women allegedly residing with R. Kelly spoke with the publication about their concerns.
Shortly after the report came out, one of the alleged "captives" came forward and denied the reported claims. 22-year-old Jocelyn Savage told TMZ at the time, "I just mainly want to say that I'm in a happy place with my life. I'm not being brainwashed or anything like that. I just want everybody to know—my parents and everybody in the world—that I'm totally fine. I'm happy where I'm at and everything is okay with me."
R. Kelly's lawyer Linda Mensche told E! News then, "Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him. Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name."
The "Trapped in the Closet" artist addressed the claims against him in a 19-minute song called "I Admit," which he released in July 2018.
"I admit that I am not perfect, I never said I was perfect/Said I'm abusing these women, what the f--k that's some absurd s--t/They're brainwashed, really?/Kidnapped, really?/Can't eat, really?/Real talk, that s--t sound silly," he said in the track.
About a year after BuzzFeed's report came out, Lifetime announced the series whose goal is to "shed a light on controversial R&B star R. Kelly, whose history of alleged abuse of underage African American girls has until recently been largely ignored by mainstream media."
R. Kelly's rep told People that they had "no comment" about the allegations brought to light in Surviving R. Kelly.
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