A Basic Guide to the Kesha and Dr. Luke Lawsuits

Courtesy of Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
Courtesy of Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

The press is exploding with information about the recent lawsuit between pop star Kesha and producer Dr. Luke, a story that gets uglier and messier every day. Allegations range from date rape to indentured servitude, with the defense now countersuing on claims of an extortion plot. With so much truth and gossip currently tangling the web in knots, FDRMX feels it is a good time to sum it all up with some straight facts about the case. Here is a basic skeleton of everything you need to know as the storm continues to brew.

Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald is an award-winning producer, songwriter, remixer, and multi-instrumentalist. He is known for his work with Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Kelly Clarkson and countless other stars. His production has earned him 37 Top 10 hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 charts. In 2005, Gottwald first signed Kesha to his record label, Kemosabe Entertainment (housed under Sony), when she was 18 years old. He has been heavily involved in the pop star’s career for nearly a decade.

Over the past few years, Kesha has either directly or indirectly implied a controlling element in their relationship. In 2013, a fan began a petition to “free” her from Gottwald’s management, citing the perspective conveyed by Kesha in her TV series documentary, My Crazy Beautiful Life. In the show (which Gottwald actually served as the executive producer for), Kesha expressed that she had hardly any creative control over her second album, Warrior. The show also revealed that a song called “Machine Gun Love,” which Kesha described as one of her favorite songs she had ever written, was not included on the album against her will.

Kesha also spoke of his alleged domination after a 2013 Flaming Lips collaboration entitled Lipsha was cancelled. She sent a message to a fan explaining that it was out of her control and she would have even been willing to release the material for free. When Kesha was admitted to a rehab center for bulimia nervosa in January of 2014, her mother, Pebe Sebert, publicly accused Gottwald of pressuring her into the condition. Sebert asserted that he had described Kesha’s body type to be “like a fat f***ing refrigerator.” Gottwald denied the remark.

On October 13th 2014, Kesha sued Gottwald on claims of sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, physical and emotional abuse, and indentured servitude. Perhaps the most frequently quoted allegation in her suit has been the following: “After forcing Ms. Sebert to drink with him, Dr. Luke instructed Ms. Sebert to take what he described as ‘sober pills’ in order for her to sober up. Ms. Sebert took the pills and woke up the following afternoon, naked in Dr. Luke’s bed, sore and sick, with no memory of how she got there. Ms. Sebert later learned that the ‘sober pills’ Dr. Luke had given her were…more commonly known as the date rape drug, allowing him to bring Ms. Sebert back to his hotel room alone and rape her while she was unconscious.”

Immediately afterward, Gottwald filed a countersuit against Kesha. He claimed that she and her mother, as well as her new management firm, Vector Management, are conspiring against him in an extortion plot intended to release her from her contract with Kemosabe. Yesterday, one of his lawyers, Christine Lepera, stated the following: “Kesha’s lawsuit is a spectacular and outrageous fiction that will go down in flames. As the truth emerges, this sad and misguided smear campaign will only hurt Kesha.” She went on to explain that Gottwald has not seen Kesha in years, adding, “this kind of cynical grandstanding in which false claims of abuse are used as a negotiating tactic insults real victims. Extortion is not going to win here.”

The latest development in the case also took place yesterday, when Gottwald revealed a threatening email from Sebert that he feels points to her extortion. Her email states that she and Kesha’s friends would get together and make various sexual abuse allegations public if he did not release Kesha from her contract. We are awaiting further developments at this time.

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