Whitney Houston‘s mother, Cissy, has spoken out about the shocking allegations in Whitney, the new documentary about her daughter, that the singer’s cousin, Dee Dee Warwick, sexually abused the “How Will I Know” singer and her brother, Gary Garland-Houston, when they were children.
In the film, the pop star’s longtime assistant, Mary Jones, claims that Whitney told her that Warwick — sister of singer Dionne Warwick — molested her as a child. “To begin we want to state clearly that the horror of what victims of sexual abuse experience is unimaginable,” reads a statement issued to People magazine on behalf of Houston’s mom, Cissy Houston, and Dionne Warwick. “We make no attempt to minimize the pain, the trauma and perhaps lifelong damage to the psyche of abuse victims. We understand and acknowledge that there are no rules governing a person’s reaction to trauma and every person reacts differently. By this statement we do not intend to defend, condone or excuse the crime of molestation.”
It continues, “We cannot overstate the shock and horror we feel and the difficulty we have believing that my niece Dee Dee Warwick… molested two of my three children,” Cissy Houston said; Billboard was unable to reach a representative for Cissy Houston at press time.
The statement also notes that Houston and Warwick were only made aware of the allegations two days before the film’s screening at the Cannes Film Festival on May 16 and that neither Dionne nor Whitney’s brother Michael Houston had heard the claims before that time. Though Whitney Houston lived a public life, her mother says that doesn’t entitle the public to “know every intimate detail of her life beyond what she herself revealed during her lifetime… if she was molested I do not believe she would have wanted it to be revealed for the first time to thousands, maybe millions of people in a film.”
The statement also notes that “neither Whitney nor Dee Dee are here to deny, refute or affirm… How can that be fair to my daughter, to Dee Dee, to our family?… Dee Dee may have had her personal challenges, but the idea that she would have molested my children is overwhelming and for us unfathomable.” Whitney’s brother, Gary, claims that Dee Dee molested him between the ages of 7-9, though he had not heard about Whitney’s alleged abuse until the movie’s release.
Houston died in February 2012 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel of what a coroner’s report said was drowning and the effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use. Jones told the magazine that she was close to Houston and that sharing the information was a difficult choice for her. “She confided in me and I struggled tremendously deciding whether to share this secret or keep to myself,” Jones told People.
“I deeply love and respect Dionne, Cissy and their entire families, and my intention was never to embarrass anyone in the family, but rather to bring to light that Whitney was subjected to something painful and troubling as a child. And it’s something that happens to other innocent kids and goes unspoken too much… I decided to share the story so that people might understand that throughout her entire life Whitney carried this with her, and the weight of it was immense. Whitney was a wonderful woman, an angel, and she did not drag herself down all alone — there was a cause.”
Cissy Houston concludes her statement by saying that after people view Whitney they will “draw their own conclusions and we are not trying to change that. We just want people to know there is another side. While the filmmakers certainly had the legal right to make this film, I wonder at the moral right.”
Click here to read the full statement.