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Whitney Houston was sexually abused by Dee Dee Warwick according to new documentary

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 4 days ago By Harriet Alexander

Whitney Houston in a dark room © Provided by The Telegraph Whitney Houston was sexually abused by her cousin, the late American soul singer Dee Dee Warwick, according to a new documentary which premiered at Cannes.

The film by Kevin Macdonald is the story of the singer’s life, as authorised by her family. Houston died in a bathtub at the Beverly Hills Hotel in February 2012, aged 48.

Gary Garland, Houston’s brother, speaks of their childhood and said that his greatest trauma was being molested "by a female relative" between the ages of seven and nine.

Mary Jones, Houston’s aunt, and the person who found her body, said that Houston told her the same thing

. Dionne Warwick et al. posing for a photo: Whitney Houston. © The Telegraph Whitney Houston.

She recalled Houston saying: "Mary, I was too. It was a woman."

Ms Jones, asked if the person was named, replied: "It was Dee Dee Warwick."

Houston never told her mother Cissy, out of fear of the repercussions.

"I think she was ashamed," said Ms Jones, adding that the abuse made Whitney Houston "question her sexual preference"  - there have long been rumours in the pop world that the star was bisexual - and hide her homosexuality in favour of marrying a man.

Whitney Houston © Getty Whitney Houston

Houston endured a tumultuous marriage to Bobby Brown from 1992 to 2007, which was famed for violent outbursts and abuse.

Their daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown died in July 2015 aged 22, being found – like her mother – unresponsive in a bathtub.

In the documentary the family discuss their early life in Newark, New Jersey, the same state as the Warwicks.

Macdonald, the Scottish director who won the Oscar for best documentary with his 1999 film One Day in September, said that he was initially not interested in Houston, but discovered “something deeply troubling and mysterious about her.”

Whitney Houston, husband singer Bobby Brown on the red carpet at the 50th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles © Getty Whitney Houston, husband singer Bobby Brown on the red carpet at the 50th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles

“For everybody in the world, the answers to the mysteries in your life usually lie in your childhood, your upbringing and your parents. And that’s certainly what I felt with her,” he said.

“It’s a quality that’s slightly different to other celebrities I’ve worked with — the level of fascinating debate and dissection is far, far higher with her. It’s because there is this strange absence of her. But then there’s this voice that communicates emotions so directly, like a shot of adrenaline to the heart.”

He said it was also an unusual experience working with the family, and described it as “a very unacrimonious and pleasant collaboration” – although Brown, he told The Hollywood Reporter, was “not ready to tell the truth”.

In Pictures: Whitney Houston's 20 most popular songs

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Singer Whitney Houston accepts the Winner of International - Favorite Artist Award onstage at the 2009 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) Whitney Houston's 20 most popular songs

“I interviewed her brothers, who are key parts of her life, and they said to me that it had become a sort of therapy session, to try to understand her in a way,” he said. “Because she’s just a mystery. I got frustrated but also fascinated — she never really gave anything of herself away. Almost 95 per cent of her interviews are completely superficial and uninteresting. And in public appearances, she’s giving off this vibe that she doesn’t want to be there. So you start to ask, why is that?”

Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick sang with their aunt Cissy Houston – Whitney’s mother - in the New Hope Baptist Church choir in Newark, and eventually the three women formed the gospel trio the Gospelaires, who often performed with the Drinkard Singers, Houston being a member of both groups.

a couple of people posing for the camera: Whitney Houston was molested by a female family member. © The Telegraph Whitney Houston was molested by a female family member.

Warwick, Houston’s cousin, was 18 years her senior.

She was one of the first openly gay women in the music industry – albeit not necessarily in public - and alongside her sister Dionne, five years her senior, was a huge hit in the 1960s and 70s.

Her 1966 song I'm Gonna Make You Love Me was remade into a huge pop hit the following year by Madeline Bell, and then reached No 2 in the US pop charts (No 3 in the UK) when recorded as a duet between the Supremes and the Temptations.

Warwick always struggled to emerge from her older sister’s shadow, however, and lived a troubled life.

Dee Dee Warwick posing for the camera: Whitney Houston. © The Telegraph Whitney Houston.

“Dee Dee was openly lesbian in the music industry,” one anonymous source close to the Warwick family said. “Not necessarily in public, but I don’t think that was a secret within the music industry. And that was a detriment to her development also, because she didn’t hide it within the music industry. She didn’t.”

It also brought her closer to Houston, the insider says.

“Whitney felt closer to Dee Dee by virtue of them sharing a similar orientation. It is interesting that there is that connection between them.”

Warwick never found the fame of her sister or rival Aretha Franklin, however, and spend her last years battling a lengthy narcotics addiction. She died in October 2008, aged 63.

Whitney Houston © Getty Whitney Houston

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At her funeral, Houston left her seat in the church to sing The Lord is my Shepherd, along with the choir.

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