The singer says her producer manipulated her career and she’s seeking to free herself from record and publishing contracts.
The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court goes all the way back to Kesha‘s life in Nashville, Tennessee, where she was allegedly induced by Dr. Luke to drop out of high school and leave her life behind at the age of 18.
From there, Kesha details how she signed up with Dr. Luke’s music production company in 2005 and came under the thumb of a producer whose “despicable conduct” included bragging how he liked to get girls drunk and have sex with them and blackmailing his pregnant wife into getting an abortion by not speaking to her for six months and threatening to leave.
The most incendiary allegations revolve around sexual abuse — specifically, how Dr. Luke allegedly forced her to snort illegal drugs and gave her “sober pills,” which Kesha says were really a form of gamma-hydroxybutyrate, more commonly known as the date rape drug.
On one occasion, the lawsuit reports that “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 immediately called her mother and made a ‘fresh complaint,’ telling her that she was naked in Dr. Luke’s hotel room, she did not know where the clothes were, that Dr. Luke had raped her, and that she needed to go to the emergency room.”
Although the sexual abuse allegations will deservedly get most of the attention, she also speaks about how Dr. Luke allegedly commandeered her career, not only threatening to ruin her and her family if she went public with the abuse, but also forcing her to live with one-sided, long-term contracts that have had the alleged effect of denying her “any meaningful profit from her work due to Dr. Luke’s exploitation of her over the last decade.”
Kesha, who hit it big with the multi-platinum single, “Tik Tok,” says that her producer resisted re-negotiation of her contract, and as he was bombarding the singer with insults about her looks and talent in an effort to shatter her self-image, he forced himself into an executive producer role on her reality TV show.
Although the complaint admits that Kesha never reported any of this until now — presumably not going to the police — it paints the picture of an artist scared to cross Dr. Luke, who allegedly warned her that “strike one” was when she hired an unapproved manager and “strike two” was when she held out from recording her second album.
Now, after entering a rehab center in Illinois for what she says was related to an eating disorder, and after allegedly being told by doctors that continued contact with Dr. Luke would be “life threatening,” she is suing him as well as affiliate record companies who are charged with having “ratified Dr. Luke’s unlawful conduct by covering up his actions and forcing Ms. Sebert to continue to work with him despite his abusive behavior.”
The lawsuit filed on her behalf by Mark Geragos asserts causes of action of sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, civil harassment, unfair business, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Among the relief being sought is to void Kesha’s recording agreements and allow her to freely enter into contracts with other recording and publishing companies.
A lawyer for Dr. Luke tells Billboard that they have filed a lawuit of their own, against Kesha.
“As set forth in the complaint that we have filed on behalf of Dr. Luke, Kesha and her mother are engaged in a campaign of publishing outrageous and untrue statements about Dr. Luke to third parties, including scurrilous and false statements of purported physical and mental abuse of Kesha. These are allegations that Kesha and Pebe have themselves admitted are false. The complaint explains that Kesha and her mother Pebe have wielded these defamatory statements in an attempt to extort Gottwald into releasing Kesha from her exclusive recording agreement with Dr. Luke,” Christine Lepera says in a statement.
“We understand that Kesha has filed a lawsuit of her own against Dr. Luke, though we have not yet seen it. Undoubtedly, Kesha’s lawsuit is nothing more than a continuation of her bad and offensive acts. We are confident that Dr. Luke will prevail in all matters, and that our client will be awarded substantial damages for this malicious conduct.”