By Brianna Bennett
On Feb. 19, singer/songwriter Kesha had a legal injunction denied by a New York Supreme Court justice. The suit was intended to sever ties with her producer, Dr. Luke, and Sony Music Entertainment, her record label.
The story goes like this: Kesha, birth name Kesha Rose Sebert, is a fairly famous musician under contract with Sony subsidiary Kemosabe Records to produce up to six albums. She alleges that her producer and owner of the imprint, Dr. Luke, birth name Lukasz Gottwald, has been sexually, physically, and verbally abusing her for as long as they have worked together.
According to the Rolling Stone, Kesha filed her initial lawsuit against Dr. Luke in October 2014 with the intention of ending their working relationship entirely. She cited crimes such as “sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender violence, civil harassment, violation of unfair business laws, infliction of emotional distress (both intentional and negligent), and negligent retention and supervision.”
Almost immediately after, Dr. Luke countersued the singer for defamation. The two music megastars have been volleying against each other for the last two years, during which Kesha was contractually forbidden from making music, thereby decimating her career.
So, that brings us to last month’s shocking turn of events. The judge that passed the verdict, Shirley Kornreich, said in her decision that there has been no evidence of “irreparable harm,” especially because Sony technically gave the singer permission to work outside of Kemosabe.
Kesha believes that doing so would harm her career even further because Sony would not market her music nearly as much with a different producer.
Ultimately, what is happening here is that because contracts such as these are “typical for the industry,” says Kornreich, this judge and all who agree with her ruling are protecting rapists and blaming victims. Due to this egregious failure of the justice system, I believe that consequences for sex-based crimes are being set back decades.
In his defense, Dr. Luke has stated that Kesha is using the abuse allegations as a springboard for better contract negotiations. Basically, he is implying that she only wants money, and that he does not want to give it to her.
“I think Dr. Luke is a piece of scum.” said Adrienne Keer, a professional writing major here at KU. “It is pathetic that RCA cares more about money than their artists’ safety. It is something about the industry that needs to change.”
Naturally, with cases such as these, there are going to be two sides to the debate. Those who believe that Kesha was abused range from Demi Lovato to Lena Dunham, but, of course there are those who are skeptical at best and bigoted at the worst.
Wendy Williams, a well-known talk show host said that Kesha should have recorded the alleged sexual assault so that she could prove it later. She even went so far to call Kesha “stupid” and implied that she was no “spring chicken,” so her allegations should not be believed because she is a little bit older.
“I am most angry about is Wendy Williams’ comments about the situation. There was a lot of victim-blaming, and I think that is the last thing that Kesha needs right now.” said Shakeera Wynne, a social work major here at KU.
KU alumna Tara Gouldey said, “Sexual assault survivors mainly come out when they want the truth to be heard; they don’t want to relive it, but they reveal it for the greater good. Kesha decided to tell her story despite the emotional trauma she dealt with in order to accuse Dr. Luke publically.”
In a statement to her fans and supporters, Kesha had this to say, “All I ever wanted was to be able to make music without being afraid, scared, or abused…the case has never been about a renegotiation of my record contract – it was never about getting a bigger or a better deal. This is about being free from my abuser.”
“It reflects on the interests of big business and how their interests are more protected than the individuals. It sets a precedent for future cases and reflects badly on serious allegations like these.” said Nykolai
Blichar, a political science major here at KU.
This verdict is doubly horrifying because: it implies that victims aren’t to be believed because contracts that force them to work with their abusers are best for business and it gives criminals permission to continue their horrid behavior without fear of repercussion, especially if they are in a position of power over the victim.
I, for one, am terrified for our future if this is what we have to look forward too.