In Kevin Macdonald’s new documentary Whitney, the director unearths a secret in Whitney Houston’s past: A friend of Houston’s says that the singer was molested at a young age by Dee Dee Warwick, Houston’s cousin and the sister of Dionne Warwick. Not everyone in Whitney Houston’s family was pleased with the documentary’s attempt to reckon with this news, and Whitney’s mother Cissy and cousin Dionne Warwick have released a lengthy statement addressing it. In People’s cover story, Cissy and Dionne (Dee Dee’s sister) say they had never before heard the allegations brought by Whitney’s longtime assistant Mary Jones. “IF [Whitney] 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,” Cissy writes. She defends Dee Dee, and says the family loved her: “Dee Dee may have had her personal challenges but the idea that she would have molested my children is overwhelming and for us unfathomable.” Read the entire statement below:
My niece Dionne Warwick and I make this statement to raise our voices above the din surrounding the release of the film, Whitney. Although the film is marketed as a Houston Family approved/endorsed project, neither my son, Michael, Dionne nor I knew of the allegations of abuse, the direction the film would take, until two days before the screening at Cannes.
To begin we want to state clearly that the horror of what victims of sexual abuse experience is unimaginable. 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.
We cannot, however, overstate the shock and horror we feel and the difficulty we have believing that my niece Dee Dee Warwick (Dionne’s sister) molested two of my three children.
I’ve been told — as justification for the invasive theme of this film — that Whitney was a public person and therefore the public has a right to know any and everything about her. I say, NO, she was a famous person … a singer, an actress, a quiet but generous philanthropist. She wasn’t running for office, asking for money or trying to win the right to run anyone’s life. Her job does not entitle the “public” to know every intimate detail of her life beyond what she herself revealed during her lifetime. Although she spoke about her struggle with drugs, the interventions, her daughter Krissi and issues in her marriage, she never PUBLICLY spoke about her father’s stealing from her or revealed any claim that she had been molested. 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.
I know the woman who was identified as Whitney’s “close confidante.” If she was my daughter’s “close confidante” it would seem she chose to betray Whitney’s confidence by publicizing rumors and hearsay. In any case Dionne, Michael and I do not know her the way we knew and loved Dee Dee Warwick. Dee Dee may have had her personal challenges but the idea that she would have molested my children is overwhelming and for us unfathomable. We cannot reconcile the Public’s need to know about Whitney’s life as justification for invasion of her privacy or the charge against Dee Dee, a charge which neither Whitney nor Dee Dee is here to deny, refute or affirm. Neither I, Dionne, nor my son Michael who was very close to his sister, and in the film is VERY candid about their drug use, has ever heard these allegations; we have never heard anything remotely connected to the crimes charged against Dee Dee in the film. How can that be fair to my daughter, to Dee Dee, or to our family?
I spent many years in recording studios (sometimes with Dionne and/or Dee Dee) where I earned my living. I also went “on the road” with my group The Sweet Inspirations to try to help provide a good life for my family BUT my children always came first in my heart and in my life. When I was away they did not stay with four or five different families; they stayed at home where their longtime babysitter, Phyllis, or my dear friend Bae or their father took care of them. In all the years I traveled Dee Dee, who was 21 years older than Whitney, NEVER BABYSAT for them.