NEW YORK — Pop star Kesha and producer Dr. Luke have settled nearly a decade of lawsuits and countersuits over her allegation that he drugged and raped her and his allegation that she made it up and slandered him, they announced on Thursday, with the singer saying that “only God knows what’s going on that night happened.”
Dr. Luke, meanwhile, said he was “absolutely sure nothing happened. I never drugged or assaulted her.”
Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed as both she and he revealed on Instagram that they had agreed to “a resolution” of the matter and a statement from each of them. Messages requesting comment were sent to their lawyers.
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“I can’t tell you everything that happened,” Kesha wrote, adding that she wishes “nothing but peace to all parties involved.”
Dr. Luke, in turn, said he wished her well and wanted to “put this difficult case behind me” after years of fighting to clear his name.
The deal prevents a trial scheduled for this summer over allegations that became a #MeToo case for Kesha’s supporters and involved a lineup of music industry celebrities. Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, Pink, Avril Lavigne, Adam Levine and Taio Cruz are among those who have given testimony or affidavits related to the case.
At the same time, the case raised important legal questions about fame and libel. So much was at stake that the media spearheaded pre-trial rulings they feared could help powerful people suppress unflattering coverage.
The lawsuit between the multi-platinum selling singer and the Grammy-nominated producer has been going on since 2014 and looms over both of their careers.
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The Associated Press generally doesn’t name people who report sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, as Kesha has done.
The singer made her name—originally styled Ke$ha—with a string of swaggering, try to stop me party anthems, beginning with 2009’s “TiK ToK.” Those early hits were produced by Dr. Luke, who founded the record label that signed an unknown from Nashville named Kesha Rose Sebert at the age of 18.
Born Lukasz Gottwald, he has produced chart hits for Perry, Lavigne, Flo Rida and more. In addition to multiple Grammy nominations, Dr. Luke has repeatedly won Pop Songwriter of the Year awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
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Kesha sued him in 2014, alleging he drugged and raped her nine years earlier and psychologically tormented her during their working relationship. She said he harassed her about her weight, denigrated her voice and swayed her career.
“The abuse I endured at the hands of Luke lasted 10 years, every day, every moment of every day,” she said during sworn questioning in 2017. According to Kesha, the ordeal triggered an eating disorder flare-up that led her to spend two months in a rehabilitation clinic in 2014.
Dr. Luke, who has not been charged with any crimes, responded by suing Kesha. He has claimed that she made “entirely untrue and deeply hurtful” claims to sully him and get out of her record deal.
“Any reasonable person will not believe her,” he said when questioned under oath in 2017.
His lawyers have noted that Kesha herself said he “never made sexual advances on me” during sworn questioning in a separate 2011 trial. She has since said she was “not completely transparent” in those 2011 statements because she was terrified for dr. Luke and felt compelled to protect him.
Kesha did not release an album for five years during the standoff, saying she couldn’t work with a “monster” but couldn’t get away from him because she was under contract with his label. His attorneys and the label’s attorneys insisted she didn’t have to work with him personally.
She eventually returned with 2017’s “Rainbow” and two subsequent albums, all with different producers. Her most recent album, Gag Order, was released in May.
The Career of Dr. Luke also took a hit after she made her accusations public. He has said that several artists, especially female ones, shun “working with someone called a rapist”.
But under the moniker Tyson Trax, he hit the top of the charts again in 2020 with Doja Cat’s “Say So,” garnering his first Grammy nomination since 2014. By this year, he was again ASCAP’s Pop Songwriter of the Year.
Along the way, Kesha’s sexual assault claims were dismissed due to time limits and other legal issues, with no findings on the merits of the allegations themselves. But she refuted Dr. Luke under a New York law against filing frivolous lawsuits to try to silence critics; The New York Supreme Court recently ruled that she could prosecute those claims.
The highest court, which New York calls the Court of Appeals, also stated that Dr. Luke is a “public figure” in the eyes of the law. That’s important because the legal requirements for proving libel are stricter for public figures than for ordinary people.
Lower courts had said the producer was not a public figure. More than a dozen media outlets and organizations got involved in the case to argue that those previous rulings could lead famous people to suppress free speech and report on sexual abuse allegations.
Earlier in the case, Kesha was assigned to kill Dr. Luke to pay more than $373,000 in interest on royalties she paid him years overdue.