The music industry recoiled this week when a judge told a sobbing Kesha she would be forced to fulfil a record contract for a man she claims raped and abused her.
Celebrity heavyweights including Lady Gaga, Lily Allen and Ariana Grande have banded behind the star, who launched a lawsuit against Dr Luke in 2014 and has not released any new music since 2013.
The singer, real name Kesha Sebert, alleges Dr Luke, real name Luke Gottwald, subjected her to a decade of “physical, sexual and emotional abuse” and she should therefore be released from her five-album contract with his record company, Kemosabe Records (owned by Sony).
With the lawsuit now wrapped up and Kesha considering further legal options thanks to a $250,000 donation from Taylor Swift, Gottwald has spoken out against the star, denying all allegations and filing a defamation suit against the singer.
‘Dr Luke physically, sexually and verbally assaulted Ms Sebert for a decade’
The now 28-year-old Kesha signed a recording contract with Dr Luke when she was just 18 and became a household name with her 2010 hit Tik Tok.
In the years following, Kesha alleged Gottwald drugged her with what he said were “sober pills” and that she woke up in his bed on several occasions without memory of how she came to be there.
“Dr Luke repeatedly threatened that if she told anyone about these abusive incidents, he would destroy both Ms Sebert and her entire family. He threatened he would shut her career down, take away all her publishing and recording rights,” the singer’s lawsuit read.
You can read her full legal complaint at the end of this story.
Kesha also alleged her 2014 stay in an eating disorder treatment facility was caused by Gottwald, who constantly berated the singer about her weight, and that Gottwald refused to renegotiate Kesha’s record contract after she became successful.
Finally, Kesha asserted she is being held captive in her record contract, and that offers to let her record with a separate Sony producer are bogus as the music wouldn’t be given the exposure required for her music to be heard.
‘She was like my little sister’
Throughout the two-year trial, Gottwald has remained mostly silent on the allegations.
But following this week’s decision, Gottwald posted a collection of tweets calling out the Twittersphere for not knowing all of the facts.
“It’s a shame that there’s so much speculation out there basing itself on so little information,” he tweeted.
“I didn’t rape Kesha and I have never had sex with her. Kesha and I were friends for many years and she was like my little sister.”
The producer – who has worked with a number of young female pop stars including Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne – also pointed to unsealed documents from a 2011 lawsuit in which Kesha denied Gottwald had ever raped her.
During the lawsuit, brought by Kesha’s former manager against both her and Gottwald, Kesha answered “no” to questions of whether Gottwald had ever drugged or had sex with the singer.
The music industry has been almost unanimous in its support for the pop star, who cried audibly when Monday’s verdict was handed down.
“Trying 2 not say anything since I can’t say anything nice about a person… so this is me not talking about Dr. Luke,” posted Kelly Clarkson with a link to a #FreeKesha message. Clarkson has worked with Gottwald extensively in the past.
“Standing with @KeshaRose through this traumatic, deeply unfair time. send good vibes her way everyone,” wrote singer Lorde.
But the most extreme show of support came from fellow pop star Taylor Swift, whose representative announced she had donated $250,000 to Kesha to help with any financial needs “during this trying time”.
Despite a number of US attorneys suggesting it will be almost impossible for the singer get out of her contract, it’s likely Kesha will consider an appeal.
“I have nothing left to hide,” posted Kesha five days ago.
“This is not just for me. This is for every woman, every human who has ever been abused.”
thank you for all the support in my legal case animals. i love all of you. it’s meant the world to me. xoxo pic.twitter.com/arHNPSxFs8
— kesha (@KeshaRose) February 18, 2016
My heart is with @KeshaRose. 💜
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) February 19, 2016