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Kesha ordered to pay $373K in Dr. Luke defamation case

Kesha attends MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Aerosmith at West Hall at Los Angeles Convention Center on January 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Kesha was ordered to pay Dr. Luke $373,000 on Thursday in the defamation case the music producer filed against the performer.

According to court documents, obtained by Entertainment Tonight (ET), Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter ruled that Kesha defamed Dr. Luke when she sent a text message to Lady Gaga in 2016 claiming that the producer had raped Katy Perry.

Schecter cited a 2017 deposition in which Perry denied having ever been sexually assaulted by Dr. Luke, whose real name is Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald.

READ MORE: Kelly Clarkson claims she lost ‘millions’ after refusing co-writing credit alongside Dr. Luke

“Perry unequivocally testified that Gottwald did not do so. In response, Kesha has not raised a triable issue. There is no evidence whatsoever that Gottwald raped Katy Perry or that Katy Perry, whose sworn testimony is unrefuted, must not be believed,” the court documents read.

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The judge ruled that Kesha “made a false statement to Lady Gaga about Gottwald that was defamatory per se.”

“There is no evidence whatsoever that [Dr. Luke] raped Katy Perry. Moreover, publication of a false statement to even one person, here Lady Gaga, is sufficient to impose liability,” Schecter ruled.
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The judge also declared that Dr. Luke is not a public figure and is not required to prove in trial that Kesha acted with “malice” when she accused him of rape.

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“Gottwald certainly is not a ‘general public figure,'” the judge explained. “Although he may be well known in music-industry circles, he has never been a household name or achieved general pervasive fame and notoriety in the community. Nor is he a limited-purpose public figure.”

The ruling stated that Kesha breached her contract with KMI, Dr. Luke’s record label, and as a result of that she is obligated to pay KMI “pre-judgment interest of $373,671.88.”

READ MORE: Sony reportedly ends partnership with Dr. Luke amid legal battle with Kesha

Dr. Luke’s legal team released a statement to ET after the ruling.

“Dr. Luke is pursuing this lawsuit to seek recovery for the serious harm Kesha’s false accusations of rape have caused Dr. Luke, his family and his business,” the statement read. “Today’s important decision by the Court in Dr. Luke’s lawsuit brings him closer to the justice that he seeks.”

“First, the Court has now ruled that Kesha made a false and defamatory accusation about Dr. Luke when she baselessly claimed that he raped Katy Perry. Second, the Court rejected Kesha’s attempts to invoke legal technicalities to avoid responsibility for her statements. And third, the Court also correctly held that Kesha breached her contract with Dr. Luke’s company,” the statement continued. “Dr. Luke looks forward to the trial of his case where he will prove that Kesha’s other false statements about him were equally false and defamatory.”

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Kesha’s legal team told the outlet: “Judge Schecter issues rulings today on motions for summary judgment in the Dr. Luke litigation. We disagree with the Court’s rulings. We plan to immediately appeal.”

This is not the final ruling on the case and it now goes to trial where a jury will determine if Kesha’s allegations that she was drugged and raped by Dr. Luke were made “in good faith” or if they were made in an effort to defame the producer.

READ MORE: Dr. Luke responds to shocking emails showing he criticized Kesha’s weight loss plan

In April 2016, Kesha wrote on her Instagram that she was offered “freedom” from her Sony recording contract with Dr. Luke if she retracted her rape allegations against him. Specifically, she says she would have to apologize publicly for “defaming” the popular music producer.

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Kesha previously sued Dr. Luke in 2014 for sexual assault and battery. Dr. Luke filed a countersuit and called her allegations “defamatory.” He also said on Twitter that he “didn’t rape Kesha” and he has “never had sex with her.”

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“So. I got offered my freedom IF I were to lie,” Kesha wrote. “I would have to APOLOGIZE publicly and say that I never got raped. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS behind closed doors. I will not take back the TRUTH. I would rather let the truth ruin my career than lie for a monster ever again.”

“Kesha’s Instagram posting is false,” a rep for Dr. Luke said at the time. “The Court repeatedly stated Kesha is already free to record without Dr. Luke, and that she had not presented any facts supporting her claims. That’s because all the evidence — including Kesha’s own videotaped sworn testimony — show her allegations are false.”

“The only thing Kesha is not free to do is to continue to lie about Dr. Luke through publicity stunts and outrageous smears, ignoring the fact that by her own free will she went to work and entered new contracts with Dr. Luke years after this ‘incident’ supposedly happened,” the statement continued. “Her goal all along has been solely personal enrichment by seeking to break contracts that brought her success and millions so she can enter into more lucrative ones. We look forward to our day in court holding Kesha accountable for her lies.”

—With files from Chris Jancelewicz

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