Kesha Breaks Down in Tears as Judge Orders She Will Not Be Released from Recording Contract: Dr. Luke's 'End Game Is to Destroy Her,' Says Lawyer

The distressed pop star watched in a N.Y.C. court room as lawyers argued over the fate of her recording career

Photo: Raymond Hall/GC Images

Kesha‘s contentious legal battle with producer Dr. Luke rages on.

The pop star, 28, appeared in New York Supreme Court Friday morning. Before she arrived, about 50 fans flocked to the courthouse, toting signs with supportive messages and singing some of her songs, including “Warrior.” When she arrived, paparazzi descended on her while fans began chanting “free Kesha now!” as she made her way up the building’s iconic steps.

Once inside, Kesha sat somberly in the back of the room, where her mother Pebe comforted her while lawyers for her, her longtime collaborator Dr. Luke (né Lukasz Gottwald) and her label’s parent company, Sony, argued over the fate of her recording career.

Kesha’s lawyers fought for a preliminary injunction that would allow her to record and release music without Dr. Luke, 42, whom she is also suing for allegedly drugging and raping her. The singer also alleges he has abused her verbally and emotionally for a decade. (Luke has vehemently denied the allegations through his lawyer, Christine Lepera, who has told 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.”)

However, Justice Shirley Kornreich recounted that both Sony and Luke provided affidavits that they would allow Kesha to record without the producer.

“Your major issue is your client is saying she cannot with Mr. Gottwald. Reading these papers, I notice that Sony and [Dr. Luke’s record label] Kemosabe Records say they don’t care if Gottwald has anything to do with anything with the recording,” the judge said to Kesha’s attorney, Mark Geragos. “They are willing to allow her to record without any involvement of Mr. Gottwald … and there are papers from Mr. Gottwald that say he will agree to allow her to record without his involvement … She doesn’t have to work with him.”

But, Geragos responded, arguing that it was an “illusory promise.”

“If he’s the one in charge of the company that does all the things to produce it … she can record right now, but no one is going to hear it,” he said, reiterating his assertion that Kesha’s future in music is in jeopardy because the typical lifespan of a pop artist’s career is short and that he believes her album won’t be promoted in an attempt to sabotage her career.

Geragos added: “She has a window in which she can produce music, that it can get out there, that it can get promoted … His end game here is to destroy her… She is set up to fail.”

The judge disagreed, citing the companies’ competitive objective to make money and the clear terms of the contract, which require Kesha to record six more albums.

“You’re asking the court … to decimate a contract which was heavily negotiated and signed by two parties in an industry where these kinds of contacts are typical; you’re asking me to decimate all that law,” said the judge. “Now the other side has come forward to say, ‘We will let her record without Dr. Luke.’ I don’t understand your problem … It’s not in [the company’s] best interest to not make money and not promote a recording artist.”

Upon the judge’s dismissal of the request for the injunction, Kesha broke down in tears, holding her face in her hands while mom Pebe and boyfriend Brad Ashenfelter did their best to console her the bereaved pop star excused herself from the room for a spell with a bodyguard.

Lawyers also argued over dueling counterclaims, but the judge has yet to make a ruling, reserving to decide on the matters at a later time, perhaps when more evidence has been presented.

Dr. Luke’s attorney Christine Lepera, told PEOPLE in a statement: “We are pleased with the Court’s decision from the bench fully denying Ms. Sebert s motion for a preliminary injunction. As the Court recognized, Ms. Sebert has always had the ability to proceed with her career if she so chooses.”

Lepera added: “We remain confident that when all the facts are presented that Ms. Sebert s allegations against Luke will be shown to be completely false and were asserted solely to extort money and gain contractual leverage.”

When the judge called the hearing to an end, Kesha made her way into the hallway, where she was greeted by a group of tearful fans – whom she hugged and thanked for their support – before exiting the building.

The day before her court appearance, Kesha took to social media to thank her fans, writing, “thank you for all the support in my legal case animals. i love all of you. it’s meant the world to me. xoxo,” alongside a photo that reads: “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.”

Around the same time, she posted a photo of her hugging a fan on Instagram, again thanking her devoted “Animals” for their outpouring of love and support. “tomorrow this is me + u guys. every one of you who has sent me sweet messages thoughts or energy. I am so grateful,” she captioned the pic.

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