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Friends say Whitney Houston was molested by cousin Dee Dee Warwick

Whitney Houston in 2009. 

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CANNES, France — Explosive allegations against Whitney Houston's cousin were unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival. Friends of Houston allege the singer was molested as a child by her cousin Dee Dee Warwick in a documentary that premiered Thursday at Cannes.

Houston's longtime assistant Mary Jones tells filmmaker Kevin Macdonald that the late singer told her that Warwick, the sister of Dionne Warwick, molested her at a young age. Houston's brother Gary Garland-Houston also says he was molested between the ages of 7 and 9 by a female family member, and says his sister was abused too.

Dee Dee Warwick, who was 18 years older than Houston, died in 2008.

The allegations were made in the documentary "Whitney," which was made with the cooperation of Houston's family. The revelations, which come about three-quarters of the way into the film, immediately cast a new light on the troubled life of Houston.

Jones claims that the experience made Houston question her own sexuality and contributed to her late-life drug problems. The singer died at the age of 48 in 2012 from what was ruled an accidental drowning in a bathtub. A coroner's report into her death cited heart disease and drug use as contributing factors. She never spoke publicly about her own alleged abuse.

"We always wanted our film to be a corrective to that tabloid story," said producer Simon Chinn. "These are specific revelations that I think will get people to a deeper understanding of who Whitney was and in many ways redeem her as a person."

Dee Dee Warwick was the niece of Houston's mother, Cissy Houston. The Warwick sisters sometimes sang in Cissy Houston's gospel group, the Drinkard Singers. Dee Dee Warwick, who was twice nominated for a Grammy Award, sang backup for Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and others. Dionne Warwick and Franklin feuded last year after Dionne referred to Franklin as Houston's godmother at the singer's funeral.  

"Whitney," which is to be released in theaters July 7, suggests that the alleged incidents of abuse took place while Cissy Houston was touring. Houston, who had a daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, with Bobby Brown, is said to have insisted on taking Bobbi on tour with her. The mother and daughter were very close.

"She brings me a lot of joy," Houston told ET in a 1993 interview. "She brings both Bobby and I a lot of joy. It's a different thing when you become a mother. It changes your whole perspective on life. You really don't live for you anymore. You're living for your children."

Bobbi Kristina Brown died 2015. She was found unresponsive in a bathtub and died after six months in a coma. An autopsy found morphine, cocaine, alcohol and prescription drugs in her body, but the medical examiner did not determine if she killed herself, if someone else killed her or if her death was accidental. In 2016, a judge ordered her partner Nick Gordon to pay $36 million to Brown's estate for her wrongful death. Gordon was at the home with a friend when investigators arrived. 

Representatives for Dionne Warwick didn't immediately return messages Thursday.