The mother of the late singer Aaliyah is speaking out about a new Lifetime docu-series claiming that the teen singer had been raped by R. Kelly, calling the allegations lies and condemning the series for dredging up the allegations.
The controversial relationship between R. Kelly and the much-younger singer was a major focus of the first episode of the Lifetime series, Surviving R. Kelly, and included a new and damaging accusation against Kelly. In the episode, backup singer Jovante Cunningham claims that she witnessed R. Kelly having sex with Aaliyah on a tour bus at the time he was 27 and she was 15. Though she did not say if the sex was consensual, if true it would have constituted statutory rape.
As E! News noted, Aaliyah’s mother, Diane Haughton, is now pushing back against the allegation, calling Cunningham a liar and blasting Lifetime for tarnishing the memory of her daughter, who died in a plane crash at the age of 21.
“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 said. “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.”
The series explored how R. Kelly’s music and his controversial personal life have intertwined. Kelly has been accused of sexual misconduct by a number of women, and his relationship with Aaliyah drew considerable criticism. There were widespread reports that Kelly secretly married Aaliyah when she was 15, though a marriage certificate believed to be falsified later circulated claiming she was 18 at the time. Kelly had taken Aaliyah under his wing, first working with the singer when she was just 12.
Surviving R. Kelly drew considerable interest in the relationship with Aaliyah, with many taking to Twitter to share disgust at the allegations.
Aaliyah. I can’t imagine how it must’ve been to be so professionally + financially tied to your actual abuser.— Shelby Ivey Christie (@bronze_bombSHEL) January 4, 2019
The weight of worrying your entire career might go away if you speak up? And then to still have to be in the same rooms + biz as him even as an adult #SurvigingRKelly
Aaliyah was 12 when she met R Kelly and was the niece of R Kelly's manager.— April (@ReignOfApril) January 4, 2019
R. Kelly faced other allegations and was charged with creating child pornography after a sex tape emerged allegedly showing him with an underage girl, but he was acquitted after a trial. More recently, he has faced allegations from women who claimed he held them against their will.
For his part, R. Kelly has denied the allegations of sexual impropriety, and has not given many details about his past relationship with Aaliyah.