Kesha dismisses sexual assault lawsuit against Dr. Luke in California to focus on music

Kesha at the Billboard Music Awards in Los Angeles on May 22.
Kesha at the Billboard Music Awards in Los Angeles on May 22.
(Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)

Kesha has dismissed her California civil suit against high-profile music producer Dr. Luke, saying she needs to get her music out while her “fight continues” in New York courts. In doing so, she has shaken the foundation on which the former colleagues’ long-running court battle has been based.

The “Die Young” singer didn’t take on just anyone in the music business: The Grammy-nominated producer, whose real name is Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, has worked on multiple chart-topping hits with the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, Pink and Avril Lavigne, to name a few. He’s also the one who signed her to his Kemosabe label when she was an unknown 18-year-old.




3:42 p.m.: An earlier version of this article misspelled Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald’s first name as Lucasz.


Kesha and Dr. Luke have been at odds now for nearly two years. She says he abused her over the course of a decade; he maintains his innocence and says their dispute is really a contract renegotiation.

The singer’s move to let the original case go comes after she announced plans last week for a U.S. summer tour, saying she’ll be “playing songs you’ve never heard me play before, and I may never play again.” The 29-year-old’s last tour was in 2013, and she sought treatment for an eating disorder in early 2014.

“Kesha has dismissed her California action without prejudice while she pursues her appeal and other legal claims in the New York courts,” her lawyer Daniel Petrocelli said Tuesday in a statement to The Times. “Kesha is focused on getting back to work and has delivered 28 new songs to the record label. We have conveyed to Sony and the label Kesha’s strong desire to release her next album and single as soon as possible.”

The initial suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by the pop singer in mid-October 2014, accused the producer of “sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally” abusing her, as well as drugging her, beginning when she was 18.

Days later, Dr. Luke sued his onetime protégé in New York for defamation and breach of contract, with his lawyer Christine Lepera telling The Times in a statement at the time that Kesha and her mother, Pebe Sebert, were engaged in “a campaign of publishing outrageous and untrue statements” about her client in an attempt to extort him into releasing the singer from her exclusive recording agreement. The suit called Kesha’s allegations “a spectacular and outrageous fiction that will go down in flames.”


Since those filings, the two music pros have been escalating the battle on both coasts, and Kesha — née Kesha Rose Sebert — has until recently not performed or made new music. In February, a New York judge rejected an appeal for a preliminary injunction that would have let the singer out of her contract with Sony Music Entertainment while her battle with Dr. Luke continued. With permission from the producer and Kemosabe, to which she remains signed, she performed a Bob Dylan cover at the Billboard Music Awards in May.

Kesha’s 2014 civil complaint against Dr. Luke »

“If Kesha is voluntarily dismissing her claims in the California case, it is because she has no chance of winning them,” Lepera told The Times in a statement Tuesday. “Earlier this year, she lost her meritless counterclaims against Dr. Luke in the New York action. Recently, the California court invited Dr. Luke and the other defendants to move to dismiss Kesha’s claims in that action. Kesha never should have brought her false and meritless claims against Dr. Luke in any court. Dr. Luke’s defamation and other claims against Kesha are still proceeding.”

After a judge put her L.A. County case on hold in July 2015, citing a contractual agreement requiring business disputes to be settled in New York, Kesha filed a second suit in that jurisdiction. That suit included hate-crime and human-rights allegations that were dismissed in April by a New York judge, who also rejected Kesha’s appeal for an injunction that would have let her out of her Sony Music Entertainment contract while her suits against Dr. Luke proceeded.

The 29-year-old singer thanked her fans for their support Monday night on Instagram. “My fight continues,” she said. “I need to get my music out. I have so much to say. This lawsuit is so heavy on my once free spirit, and I can only pray to one day feel that happiness again. I am continuing to fight for my rights in New York.”

While fans and a number of high-profile women in the entertainment industry, including Adele, Lena Dunham, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, have rallied around the “Tik Tok” singer and the “Free Kesha” slogan, Dr. Luke has adamantly maintained his innocence throughout the legal clash. Sony Music Entertainment has said Kesha is free to record music with another producer.


“It’s a shame that there’s so much speculation out there basing itself on so little information,” he said in a series of tweets after the preliminary injunction was rejected in February, noting that the judge who had ruled against Kesha was the “only truly objective person” who knew all the facts.

“I understand why people without all the information are speaking out. I can appreciate their compassion. But lives can get ruined when there’s a rush to judgment before all the facts come out. Look what happened at UVA, Duke etc.,” he continued. “[O]f course any sane person is against rape and sexual assault but everybody who is commenting is doing so without knowledge or facts. They are getting behind an allegation only -- motivated by money.”

He listed his pro-woman credentials — sisters, a daughter and a feminist mom — and stated clearly: “I didn’t rape Kesha and I have never had sex with her. Kesha and I were friends for many years and she was like my little sister.… It’s sad that she would turn a contract negotiation into something so horrendous and untrue.”

Staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.

Follow Christie D’Zurilla on Twitter @theCDZ.



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