Here’s Why Kesha’s Latest Court Victory Against Dr. Luke Is so Important
Kesha has achieved an important victory in her ongoing defamation court battle with producer Dr. Luke, real name Lukasz Gottwald.
Content warning: sexual assault
On Tuesday (June 13), New York's Court of Appeals, their top appeals court ruled that because he is a "public figure," Gottwald has to prove Kesha showed "actual malice" when she alleged that he drugged and raped her at a party in 2005.
The ruling states:
By 2014, when Gottwald initiated this defamation action, he was, by his own account, a celebrity — an acclaimed music producer who had achieved enormous success in a high-profile career. He purposefully sought media attention for himself, his businesses, and for the artists he represented, including Sebert, to advance those business interests.
Because of this, Gottwald either has to prove that Kesha "knew her accusation was false" or "acted with a reckless disregard for the truth."
According to Billboard, this is a notably difficult hurdle to clear in court.
Kesha also gained another victory when the courts ruled that the "anti-SLAPP" law applies to the case, which means that should she win, she can demand Gottwald repay her legal bills.
A trial is slated to begin on July 19.
In October 2014, Kesha sued Dr. Luke for sexual assault and battery, as well as sexual harassment, gender violence, emotional abuse and violation of California business practices.
She accused the producer of giving her a date rape drug at a party and raping her, as well as subjecting her to emotional abuse and fat-shaming for several years of her career. (Her debut hit "Tik Tok" didn't come out until 2010.)
According to Pitchfork, Kesha claimed Dr. Luke's alleged abuse caused her "severe depression, post-traumatic stress, social isolation, and panic attacks."
Despite attempting to free herself from her recording contract with Dr. Luke's label, Kemosabe Records, her 2017 album Rainbow was released as part of a deal between the label and RCA Records. She signed to Kemosabe Records when she was 18.
Kesha dropped her final album under her contract with Kemosabe Records, Gag Order, in May 2023. The record explores darker themes, seemingly in relation to her legal battle with Dr. Luke.