The “Timber” singer, 27, has filed a lawsuit claiming the producer began to abuse her when she signed with him at the age of 18, allegations that a source also confirms to PEOPLE.
In the documents, Kesha claims Dr. Luke “made repeated sexual advances toward her. She claims he would force her to use drugs and alcohol to remove her defenses,” TMZ was first to report.
“[Dr. Luke] has just always been very disrespectful about her weight,” Kesha’s mother, Pebe Sebert, told PEOPLE after her daughter entered treatment. “He’d say it in certain ways like, ‘Why don’t you try running?’ She was doing everything and not getting thin fast enough, and that’s when she first became bulimic.”
Dr. Luke then turned the criticism back on Sebert: “It is unfortunate that at a time Kesha is suffering immensely and trying to heal at a treatment center, her mother is taking this approach with the media,” he had said in response. “I give Kesha my utmost support and well wishes for a quick return to health.”
However, the source corroborates the singer’s claims of abuse. “He would lock her in a room and tell her she couldn’t come out until she finished a song,” recalls the source, who also claims to have witnessed Kesha being verbally and physically abused. “It’s part of the reason the album took so long – they were completely at odds.”
Dr. Luke responded to the allegations Tuesday by filing a suit against Kesha and her mother for breach of contract and defamation, but the source questions why the successful producer would want to continue working with the singer.
“He has so much money,” says the source. “He would rather drain her dry over a legal battle than let her out of her contract.”
Dr. Luke’s lawyer, Christine Lepera, issued the following statement to PEOPLE: “Kesha and her mother are engaged in a campaign of publishing outrageous and untrue statements about Dr. Luke to third parties, including scurrilous and false statements of purported physical and mental abuse of Kesha.”
Lepera also addressed the suit Dr. Luke has filed against Kesha: “The complaint explains that Kesha and her mother Pebe have wielded these defamatory statements in an attempt to extort Gottwald into releasing Kesha from her exclusive recording agreement with Dr. Luke.”
Mark Geragos, Kesha’s lawyer, also spoke with PEOPLE about the lawsuits.
“This is just another pathetic and entirely predictable example of Dr. Luke’s continued abuse, and a misguided attempt to keep Kesha under his tyrannical control,” Geragos said. “This lawsuit has absolutely no basis in fact, the law or reality. Kesha is focused on reclaiming her voice and her freedom. She is determined to move on with her life and her career by putting this dark period behind her.”
Geragos added, “His counter suit, or actually, it’s not even a counter suit … his lawsuit filed after we filed ours, substantiates and corroborates exactly what we have alleged in ours, which is that he is nothing but a physical, emotional bully. And now he is going to try and drive her into the ground financially, which we will not let happen. It’s just part of his pattern and practice.”
“I think there are a lot of things that went into [why she’s coming out with the lawsuit now]. Him driving her, basically to the brink of death, with the eating disorder and the rehab actually helped make her stronger and emotionally equipped to be able to finally stand up to him. Getting out of the contract is really secondary to extricating herself from his control.”
• Reporting by JENNIFER GARCIA