“All I ever wanted was to be able to make music without being afraid, scared, or abused.” So implored an emotional Facebook post from pop singer Kesha (born Kesha Rose Sebert) on Wednesday.
For the past week, and much of the past year, the California-native has rarely been out of the headlines due to ongoing legal issues with producer Dr Luke – a man she says drugged, raped and psychologically tormented her since their working relationship began a decade earlier.
Desperate to extricate herself from the six-album deal she is still in with Sony, which stipulates that he has the rights to produce at least six songs on each record, Sebert’s attempt to free herself from her alleged abuser has become a very public battle.
Dr Luke (real name Lukasz Gottwald) has always denied the claims made against him, writing that he has “Three sisters, a daughter, and a son with my girlfriend, and a feminist mom who raised me right…It’s a shame that there’s so much speculation out there basing itself on so little information.”
The four-time Grammy nominee, 42, has worked with the likes of Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus, and first signed a then-18-year-old Sebert in 2005.
“Kesha and I made a lot of songs together and it was often good but there were creative differences at times,” he said on Twitter on Tuesday.
“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.”
Sebert’s lawsuit suffered a major setback last Friday following the New York Supreme Court’s decision not to void their deal.
He has accused her of ‘smearing’ him in order to shirk her recording responsibilities; she believes that, even though Sony has promised she won’t have to continue working with him (both they and Gottwald provided affidavits stating this), they’ll ‘bury’ any albums she goes on to make by way of punishing her for speaking out.
Their past looks just as bleak as their future: three years ago, a petition to ‘free Kesha’ was started by fans after a video in which she and the producer appeared revealed that she had been denied creative control over her album and that her favourite songs had been omitted against her wishes; the next year, when she was admitted to rehab suffering from bulimia, her mother Pebe Sebert claimed that it was the result of continued pressure from Gottwald over her weight – something he has subsequently denied.
The court documents, which chart 10 years of alleged infractions, make for grim reading.
‘After forcing Ms. Sebert to drinkwith him, Dr. Luke instructed Ms. Sebert to take what he described as ‘soberpills’ in order for her to sober up,’ the suit reads.
“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 later learned that the ‘sober pills’ Dr. Luke had given her were…more commonly known as the date rape drug, allowing him to bring Ms. Sebert back to his hotel room alone and rape her while she was unconscious.”
‘Dr Luke repeatedly threatened that if she ever told anyone about these abusive incidents, he would destroy both Ms Sebert and her entire family,’ it continues.
‘Specifically, after he drugged and raped Ms. Sebert, Dr Luke took her down the beach alone to ‘have a talk’ with her. ‘He threatened that if she ever mentioned the rape to anyone, he would shut her career down, take away all her publishing and recording rights, and otherwise destroy not only her life but her entire family’s lives as well.’
In an industry rife with allegations of sexual abuse between female stars and their co-workers, this brutal back and forth has drawn the world’s attention. For others who have suffered, it hasn’t come a moment too soon.