Judge: Kesha guilty of defaming Dr Luke

Pop singer Kesha (above) told fellow singer Lady Gaga in a text message that producer Dr Luke had raped singer Katy Perry.
Pop singer Kesha (above) told fellow singer Lady Gaga in a text message that producer Dr Luke had raped singer Katy Perry.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Pop singer Kesha has suffered another setback in her legal fight against Dr Luke, her former producer whom she accused of rape almost six years ago.

The two filed duelling lawsuits in 2014, with Kesha asking to be released from her contracts with his companies. Dr Luke said she defamed him with a "sham" allegation to escape contractual obligations.

Since that time - three years before #MeToo swept the entertainment industry - the story has been debated in public and online and has wound through the courts on its way to a possible trial.

So far, Kesha has largely prevailed in the court of public opinion. Dr Luke has disappeared from the pop charts he once dominated.

But in the courts, he has been consistently winning.

Kesha's original case was dismissed and, in 2018, a New York appeals court blocked her from filing a counter-claim against Dr Luke that would have voided their business relationship.

Last week, a New York judge overseeing Dr Luke's case over defamation and breach of contract, made a number of decisions that will make it harder for Kesha to prevail at trial.

The judge decided that Dr Luke is not well known enough to be considered a "public figure", which makes it easier for him to prove that he had been defamed if a jury concludes that he did not rape Kesha.

The judge also decided that Dr Luke had proved that Kesha defamed him when she told pop singer Lady Gaga in a text message that he had raped pop singer Katy Perry, which the latter denied.

The decision means that even if Kesha prevails in the rest of the case, she might have to pay Dr Luke for that.

The judge said a number of issues remain for a jury to decide. Many rest on the question of whether Dr Luke did in fact rape Kesha.

She said he drugged her at a party in 2005 and raped her. No date has been set for a trial.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2020, with the headline 'Judge: Kesha guilty of defaming Dr Luke'. Subscribe