Culture

Why You Need To Know About Kesha’s Court Case Against Dr. Luke

In case you don't know why #FreeKesha is trending on Twitter.

This article discusses sexual assault. 

For several hours the hashtag #FreeKesha has been trending on Twitter, which may be perplexing to those who haven’t thought about the 28-year-old pop singer since she threw glitter all over Kochie on Sunrise.

To catch you up: in 2014, Kesha sued producer and frequent collaborator Dr. Luke (real name Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, who has worked with Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus, and is a very successful guy) for allegedly sexually assaulting her, drugging her and physically abusing her since she was 18. Kesha has also said that she had developed an eating disorder due to his constant abuse, and feared what would happen to her if she disobeyed him.

This lawsuit made big headlines, but Dr. Luke quickly countersued and claimed that Kesha was trying to extort him, asking the judge to dismiss her claims of sexual assault against him. This went back and forth, until late last year when Kesha asked that her contract with Dr. Luke and Sony (who owns Dr. Luke’s production company and who she believes turned a blind eye to the abuse) be broken, so she could release music without his involvement. Last night this injunction was denied, which means that Kesha is still legally obligated to make six more records with Sony.

The images from the hearing in New York are upsetting, particularly one showing Kesha crying in the courthouse as the judgement is being read.

The story of a powerful, protected man in the music industry allegedly abusing the young talent in their care, is not a new one. Kesha’s story is already being compared to that of Jackie Fox from the Runaways, who last year told The Huffington Post that she had been raped as a teenager by influential music manager Kim Fowley. One protestor outside the New York Supreme Court today held up a sign comparing Dr. Luke to Fowley and Bill Cosby.

We hear about this happening all the time, particularly in the music industry (most recently with Amber Coffman from the Dirty Projectors, Bethany Cosentino from Best Coast and others, accusing publicist Heathcliffe Berru of sexual assault) but other victims of abuse may not have the support systems in place to be able to name their attackers publicly. Kesha is a wealthy, well-known white woman, she has certain privileges that other victims do not have, yet she was also failed by the law. It seems baffling that even with the sexual assault charge dismissed, she is still required to be legally tied to her alleged attacker, at their behest.

During the last few months, Kesha has been vocal in thanking her fans for their support during her legal battles. Today, popular figures like Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Lorde and Lily Allen have tweeted their support for Kesha.

Over at Jezebel today, Madeleine Davis has written about the problem with the law treating massive corporations the same way as it treats individuals. “Contracts were signed. Kesha entered into a legal agreement with Sony and Kemosabe (Dr. Luke’s company). But then again, Dr. Luke has a legal obligation to not rape or hurt anyone, even when it’s a young woman who’s been put under his creative and legal control,” she writes. “When a contractual violation and a human violation are put head-to-head in court, an idealist would think that a human being’s safety takes precedence. A realist, however, would know better.”

It’s unclear where Kesha’s legal proceedings will go from here, but the judgement speaks volumes about the importance placed on contracts versus a young woman’s perceived safety.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) offers counselling, support or assistance for anyone who has experienced sexual assault or family violence.