Trigger warning: sexual abuse
Since filing a lawsuit of sexual, physical and emotional abuse against her producer, Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald) last year, US pop singer Kesha has been caught in limbo that has been utterly heartbreaking to behold.
In early 2014, Kesha checked into a rehabilitation facility in Illinois for the treatment of an eating disorder. This sparked the first assertion against her producer Dr. Luke, as she cited his criticism of her weight (he allegedly compared her body to the shape of a refrigerator and told her she needed to lose weight) when she first signed with him as reason for her disorder worsening. Later in the year (October), the singer sued Dr. Luke for further emotional abuse, in addition to sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence and violation of California business practices for the duration of their decade-long working relationship.
In reaction, Dr. Luke filed a counter-suit against Kesha for defamation, accusing her and her management of fabricating the abuse claims in order to break her contract with him. In June of this year, it was reported that Kesha added a suit against Sony Music Entertainment, with Kesha’s lawyer claiming “Dr. Luke’s proclivity for abusive conduct was open and obvious to [Sony Music Entertainment] executives, who either knew of the conduct and turned a blind eye, failed to investigate Dr. Luke’s conduct, failed to take any corrective action, or actively concealed Dr. Luke’s abuse.”
During her time in rehab, Kesha is said to have written at least 14 news songs. However, as her contracts with Luke and his label Kemosabe Records (which is owned by Sony Music Entertainment) are still in place and preventing her from moving to a new label, she is unable to produce any of this new material. Last Friday, the singer pushed for a preliminary injunction, meaning that a New York judge will soon have to make a determination if she is likely to succeed on the merits of a claim that her recording contracts are void.
According to court papers, Kesha’s attorney Mark Geragos told the judge why a determination is needed soon:
“Until this Court rules on the declaratory judgment claim, Kesha is at an impasse,” states a memorandum supporting an injunction that would bar Dr. Luke from interfering with her signing with another label. “She cannot work with music producers, publishers, or record labels to release new music. With no new music to perform, Kesha cannot tour. Off the radio and stage and out of the spotlight, Kesha cannot sell merchandise, receive sponsorships, or get media attention. Her brand value has fallen, and unless the Court issues this injunction, Kesha will suffer irreparable harm, plummeting her career past the point of no return.”
In support, Kesha has submitted an affidavit of her own describing the abuse she endured, along with Luke’s claiming credit for music he didn’t write and a television show he didn’t produce, before finally stating she knows she “cannot work with Dr. Luke… I physically cannot. I don’t feel safe in any way.” Adding to her support, Kesha provided an affidavit from Jim Urie, the former president and CEO of Universal Music Group Distribution. He agrees that without an injunction, Kesha’s career is over.
“No mainstream distribution company will invest the money necessary to distribute songs for an artist who has fallen from the public eye, as is happening to Kesha at this very moment… Accordingly, if Kesha cannot immediately resume recording and having her music promoted, marketed, and distributed by a major label, her career is effectively over.”
A spokesperson for Luke, on the other hand, has said that the producer and his legal team are confident that “this motion will be denied because it is without merit… Kesha continues to make the same false claims of abuse against Dr. Luke.” Adding that “If Kesha now regrets her career being mired in legal proceedings, it’s entirely her making. It was Kesha who chose to file a lawsuit falsely alleging abuse to gain advantage in contract negotiations, and now she must accept the consequences of her improper actions. As long as she continues to stand by her false claims of abuse against Dr. Luke and remains in breach of her contracts, he will continue to protect his professional and personal reputation, as well as his contractual rights, in a court of law. He looks forward to obtaining judgments in his favor.”
Meanwhile, Sony Entertainment has made its first comments on the case, stating that the company has simply been “caught in the crossfire.” and that “She cannot claim that Gottwald [Dr. Luke] intimidated her into silence, then — as an apparent afterthought — seek to hold Sony and Kemosabe Records liable for failing to act on conduct that she did not report.”