The first episode of the new Lifetime documentary, ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ will air on Thursday, Jan. 3, and includes an emotional interview with former backup singer Jovante Cunningham, who says she met R. Kelly at age 14. In a promotional clip, Cunningham claims she was a direct witness to R. Kelly’s sexual encounters with underaged girls in the ’90s, including his one-time protégée Aaliyah Haughton.
“So it just so happened we were all laying in our bunks and the curtains are open, everybody’s communicating, laughing,” Cunningham recalls. “When the [room] door flew open on the bus. Robert was having sex with Aaliyah.”
Asked what she saw, Cunningham responds: “Things that an adult should not be doing with a child.” She adds, “I can’t stress to you how people are still suffering behind things that went on 20 years ago.”
In contrary to Cunningham’s recollection, Aaliyah’s mom Diane Haughton claims no such incident happened, and insist Cunningham is a “liar.”
She released the below statement to Aaliyah fans:
The woman and so-called backup singer in the forthcoming “Surviving…” documentary that describes seeing, meeting or ever breathing the same air as my daughter, Aaliyah, is lying and is a liar. 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.These lies and fabrications cannot be tolerated and allowed to be spewed from the forked tongues of saboteurs of Aaliyah’s legacy. My daughter only wanted to realize her dream of sharing her talents 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 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.
What a pickle!
In related news, R. Kelly has threatened legal action against Lifetime in hopes that the network will pull the plug on the pending broadcast.
According to TMZ, Kelly’s lawyer, Brian Nix sent Lifetime a legal letter, warning the network that its “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary is packed with lies.
Kelly’s calling BS … saying the subjects made false allegations to become famous. What’s more … Kelly says he has 2 audio recordings — 5 minutes in duration — that show Lifetime knew “some of the girls are lying, but that the budget was too high to turn back now.”
The 6-part docu-series, Surviving R. Kelly, is built upon wide-ranging interviews with many of R. Kelly’s former friends, family members 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.