Judge Rules That Kesha Defamed Dr. Luke with Text Message to Lady Gaga Claiming He Raped Katy Perry
The singer has also been ordered to pay $373,671.88 in interest on a royalty payment from 2017
The latest development in the legal battle between Kesha and Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald marks a win for the music producer, who sued Kesha in 2014 for defamation after she accused him of drugging and raping her.
Dr. Luke claims that Kesha made up the accusation in order to get out of her recording contract.
A judge ruled on Thursday that the “Tik Tok” singer defamed Dr. Luke when she claimed in a text message to Lady Gaga that the producer had also raped Katy Perry, according to the ruling, which was obtained by Variety.
Further, the ruling found that Dr. Luke is not a public figure, which had been one of Kesha’s defenses in the suit.
“Though Gottwald has sought publicity for his label, his music, and his artists — none of which are the subject of the defamation here — he never injected himself into the public debate about sexual assault or abuse of artists in the entertainment industry,” said New York Supreme Court Judge Jennifer G. Schechter in his ruling.
“The only reason Gottwald has any public connection to the issues raised in this lawsuit is because they were raised in this lawsuit,” the ruling continued. “That cannot convert him into a limited public figure.”
Thursday’s ruling means the prosecutors in the case will not have to prove “actual malice” on Kesha’s part in trial.
“Because Gottwald is not a public figure for purposes of determining the the constitutional protection afforded to statements by Kesha that he drugged, raped and sexually assaulted her, the actual malice standard is inapplicable,” Schechter’s ruling said.
“Perry unequivocally testified that Gottwald did not [rape her]. 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 singer has also been ordered to pay $373,671.88 in interest on a more than $1.3 million royalty payment she made to Dr. Luke’s KMI in August 2017, which was “well beyond the deadlines set forth in the parties’ contract,” according to the ruling.
“Kesha does not dispute the terms of the contract or the calculation of the interest,” the ruling stated.
In response to the ruling, Kesha’s legal team said in a statement to PEOPLE, “Judge Schecter issued rulings today on motions for summary judgment in the Dr. Luke litigation. We disagree with the Court’s rulings. We plan to immediately appeal.”
“Kesha abandoned her meritless case against Dr. Luke more than three years ago,” Dr. Luke’s legal team tells PEOPLE in a statement. “The only remaining lawsuit is Dr. Luke’s case against Kesha for defamation and breach of contract. 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.”
“Today’s important decision by the Court in Dr. Luke’s lawsuit brings him closer to the justice that he seeks,” Dr. Luke’s legal team continued in their statement. “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 concluded, “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.”