A six-part docuseries set to air on Lifetime this week features an interview one of R. Kelly’s ex-backup singers who accused then-27-year-old musician of having sex with Aaliyah when she was 15.
In “Surviving R. Kelly,” former backup singer Jovante Cunningham tearfully recounted meeting Robert Kelly at age 14 and how the singer had sexual encounters with multiple underage girls in the ’90s, including Aaliyah Haughton. According to People, Cunningham described how Aaliyah’s manager uncle introduced the “tom-boyish” singer to Kelly when she was 12. Cunningham explained how they would sneak the young singer out her hotel room and take her places.
Cunningham recalled witnessing Kelly raping the “One in a Million” singer. The ex-backup singer alleged she and others were talking while lying in their respective bunks with their curtains open when a door burst open—to show Kelly having sex with the 15-year-old.
Describing what she saw, Cunningham said, “Things that an adult should not be doing with a child.”
“I can’t stress to you how people are still suffering behind things that went on 20 years ago.”
Aaliyah reached stardom in May 1994 with her debut single “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number,” which was penned by Kelly. Later that year, stories circulated that Kelly secretly married the 15-year-old in Illinois. Though the teen never publicly acknowledged the nature of their relationship, multiple reports indicated that Vibe published a marriage license which confirmed the controversial union.
Essence reported that Haughton was erroneously listed as 18 on the license; her parents are said to have had the marriage annulled in February 1995.
Aaliyah, who had released multiple albums and began a budding film career, died in a plane crash in The Bahamas in 2001. She was 22.
The docuseries will air on Lifetime on January 3 and features emotional interviews with women who claimed they were victimized by Kelly in addition to Andrea Kelly, his former wife of 11 years. The explosive series comes as the 51-year-old Grammy winner combats allegations that women were being held against their will at his homes in Johns Creek, Georgia, and Chicago, Illinois.
R. Kelly’s team has declined People’s request for comment on the upcoming series.
[Featured Image: R.Kelly/RW/MediaPunch/MediaPunch/IPx via AP; Aaliyah Haughton/AP Photo] `