Whitney Houston was sexually abused during childhood, new documentary claims

Whitney Houston was sexually abused during childhood, new documentary claims

The documentary "Whitney", which premiered Wednesday at the Cannes film festival, includes an accusation that Whitney Houston was molested as a child by her cousin, gospel singer Dee Dee Warwick.

Jones claims that the experience made Houston question her own sexuality and contributed to her late-life drug problems. "He's saying I was abused by this person and told me, 'I think she abused Whitney, '" Macdonald said. "If Cissy had known, she would have done something about it, because Cissy loves her children'". Houston's brother Gary Garland-Houston also says he was molested between the ages of seven and nine by a female family member, and says his sister was abused too.

Whitney Houston died at the age of 48 on February 11, 2012, having accidentally drowned in a bathtub after a heart attack, brought on after years of substance abuse.

The film, which will make its theatrical debut on July 6, incorporates features like never-before-seen archival footage and rare performances to wrap viewers into Houston's life.

Upon learning about the betrayal by her father, Houston was crushed and unfortunately, her marriage with Bobby Brown was also falling apart at that point of time. Macdonald has considerably more access to Houston's family and friends than other documentarians have had, but some topics are clearly still hard for them to discuss: While on camera, ex-husband Bobby Brown refuses to talk about Houston's late-in-life drug problems, and though the singer's friends confirm that she was romantically involved with her assistant Robyn Crawford, Houston's family members so loathe Crawford that they only will call her an evil opportunist. "She felt uncomfortable in her own skin in nearly every interview there was with her", he told Deadline.

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Macdonald suspected that there was "something wrong" with Houston after watching footage of her past interviews in preparation for the film project, he said. She seemed kind of asexual in a odd way. But in her later years Houston struggled with drug and alcohol abuse that left her unable to perform properly. On the plus side, we get a much more intimate sense of Whitney's upbringing, and one late-arriving bombshell as Macdonald looks to her childhood - described reflexively as "idyllic" by one relative, but marked by a secret history of abuse - to contextualise why addiction took hold. "She was handsome", she said, "her heart". "There was something preventing her, in some way, from expressing her real self".

The Guardian has contacted representatives of the Warwick family for comment on the allegations.

Whitney will be released in United Kingdom and U.S. cinemas on 6 July.

Sarah Rodman provided additional reporting for this story.

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