The Dr. Luke & Kesha Trials Show Why Survivors Are Afraid To Come Forward

Though Kesha ought to be celebrating the release of her latest album, High Road, she’s been dealt another blow in her ongoing legal battle with Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald. 

Dr. Luke sued the pop star for defamation and breach of contract. The judge in the case, New York State Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter, granted Gottwald summary judgments against Kesha, effectively ruling against her.  

The justice writes that the “Praying” singer “made a false statement to Lady Gaga about Gottwald… that was defamatory.” The accusation came to light when Kesha stated in private text messages to friend Lady Gaga that Katy Perry was raped by Dr. Luke. 

Here’s the issue with that: Katy Perry unilaterally denied the accusations against Dr. Luke in court.

The questions asked of Perry are very specific.

“Did Dr. Luke ever rape you?”

“No.”

“Did Dr. Luke ever sexually assault you?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Did he ever give you a roofie?”

“No.”

“Did you have a sexual relationship with Dr. Luke at all?”

“No.”

“A romantic relationship?”

“No.

Perry denies the accusations, but some victims have been known to identify with their attackers, developing a kind of Stockholm Syndrome.

Perry maintains that she was not a victim.

Kesha’s defense team argues that defamation could not have occurred as Gottwald is a public figure. In order for an individual to be found of defamation of a public figure, the law states that statements about them must not only be false or harmful, but must also carry malicious intent or irresponsibility. In Kesha’s case, she was texting a friend and made an allegation. 

How did these texts come to light anyway?

Dr. Luke’s legal team subpoenaed Lady Gaga. Yes, you read that correctly. All of the information from these texts was private until Gaga turned the texts over to the court.

Schecter advises that the publication of a false statement to even one individual is adequate to impose liability. The judge states that although Dr. Luke is in the entertainment industry, he’s not a household name. Thus, the justice ruled that Kesha’s texts to Gaga were defamatory. Since the judge decided that Gottwald wasn’t a public figure, his lawyers didn’t need to prove that Kesha intended defamation. To add insult to injury, Schecter also ordered Kesha to pay Gottwald $374,000 in interest on late royalty payments. 

In a statement, Kesha’s lawyer states, “We disagree with the Court’s rulings. We plan to immediately appeal.”

This situation outrages me. Private messages between friends, however famous the friends may be, discuss a sexual assault on Kesha and an unnamed woman. We later learn the unnamed woman is Perry. The alleged rapist’s legal team later subpoenas Kesha for the correspondence, and here we are. It’s a little like eavesdropping on a conversation you shouldn’t hear and tattling to the nearest adult. Bringing in the text messages between Kesha and Gaga is bullshit.

Fan like myself are disgusted and furious.

One fan comments on how those accused of abuse and assault try to control the narrative:

The hashtag #FreeKesha took over Twitter after the news broke.

We could say this trial was simply about breach of contract and defamation. But even though a great deal of it is, let’s be honest: It’s about so much more. The trial is really about rape culture, victim-blaming, and the arrogance of men in power.

People often ask survivors of rape and sexual assault, “Why didn’t you come forward?” “Were you drinking?” “Maybe you led them on…”

But none of those things matter. Rape is rape.

We witnessed an alleged rapist sue his victim and win, but most people didn’t even bat an eye. The Dr. Luke and Kesha trials show us why survivors are afraid to come forward.

Featured Photo via Kesha

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