Aaliyah’s mother, Diane Haughton, has released a statement amid allegations her daughter had sexual relations with R. Kelly. In Lifetime‘s new documentary, Surviving R. Kelly, the rapper’s former backup dancer Jovante Cunningham alleges she witnessed the two engaging in “things that an adult should not be doing with a child.” At the time, R. Kelly was 27 and Aaliyah was 15.
Speaking with E! News, Diane said, “The woman and so-called backup singer 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 career. Whoever this woman is, I have never seen her before anywhere on planet earth, until now.”
She then added that Jovante’s claims “cannot be tolerated and allowed to be spewed from the forked tongues of saboteurs of Aaliyah’s legacy.”
Diane 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.”
In July 2017, Buzzfeed alleged that R. Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was holding women hostage in a “cult” against their will. At the time, several parents of the women stepped forward about their concerns.
According to one of those mothers — identified only as “J” — her daughter first met R. Kelly on May 23, 2015, under the guise that he was going to further the 19-year-old’s music career. J explained, “When we got to go backstage with R. Kelly, we stayed there over two hours. One-on-one with just me and my daughter and him. We went back to talk about the music. He listened to her CD. He was going to help her with her CD, and I was really impressed with him at first because I have always been an R. Kelly fan.” J said that she hasn’t seen her daughter in person since Dec. 1, 2016, and has only heard from her (via text message) twice since then — on Christmas and on Mother’s Day.
Nearly a year after BuzzFeed‘s report came out, Lifetime announced their series, which would “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.”
Surviving R. Kelly premieres Jan. 3 at 9 p.m. EST on Lifetime.