On Monday, the “TiK ToK” singer, 29, and her longtime producer and record executive, 43, filed requests to amend counterclaims — and for a jury trial — in their ongoing case.
In October 2014, Kesha (born Kesha Sebert) sued Luke (born Lukasz Gottwald), alleging he had drugged and raped her, as well as verbally, physically and emotionally abused her for 10 years. Luke has since adamantly denied the accusations and is countersuing for defamation and breach of contract. Last February, a New York judgedenied Kesha’s request for a preliminary injunction that would allow her to record music outside of Luke’s purview until the lawsuit comes to a close. Two months later, the same judge dismissed Kesha’s abuse claims. And in August, the singer dropped a similar lawsuit in California to focus efforts on appealing the New York dismissals.
“You can get a divorce from an abusive spouse. You can dissolve a partnership if the relationship becomes irreconcilable,” Kesha’s attorney, James M. Pearl wrote in the Jan. 30, 2016, filing. “The same opportunity — to be liberated from the physical, emotional, and financial bondage of a destructive relationship — should be available to a recording artist.”
Meanwhile, Luke’s attorney, Christine Lepera, added more allegations to the hitmaker’s counterclaims, accusing Kesha of “highly damaging conduct” and moving “to add an additional cause of action against Kesha for defamation, along with additional facts obtained by discovery which underscore the malicious and vicious conduct Kesha has perpetrated on Gottwald, while falsely professing to the world that she is the injured.” In a statement to PEOPLE, Lepera added: “Kesha’s new proposed counterclaim simply repeats the meritless and untrue allegations that were set forth in her earlier pleadings and which Dr. Luke fully disputes.”
Below are the latest barbs the estranged collaborators have exchanged via newly filed court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
Luke’s team alleges Kesha told Lady Gaga that the producer sexually assaulted another pop star.
In Luke’s latest filing, his attorney, Lepera, alleges that on Feb. 26, 2016, “Kesha initiated a text message conversation with Stefani Germanotta, the recording artist who is professionally known as ‘Lady Gaga.’ During this text message conversation, Kesha falsely and baselessly asserted that Kesha and another female recording artist (the ‘Other Recording Artist’) had both been raped by Gottwald … Since this text message conversation, Lady Gaga has spread negative messages about Gottwald in the press. Indeed, Lady Gaga has gone so far as to suggest during a radio interviewthat she possesses secret information regarding Gottwald that is damaging to him. Lady Gaga’s statements during this radio interview were thereafter repeated and spread widely by many international media outlets.”
According to the documents, “Kesha’s false accusation that Gottwald raped the Other Recording Artist has been widely circulated throughout the music industry … thereby causing further grievous damage to [Luke]’s reputation and business, just as Kesha intended,” Lepera wrote. “As Lady gaga observed in this text message conversation, ‘it will NOT [b]e easy for’ her [i.e. the Other Recording Artist] or any artist to work w[ith] him [i.e. Gottwald] after this.”
Kesha’s camp claims Dr. Luke didn’t pay her royalties for more than 2 years, that she is still owed royalties and that she hasn’t been properly compensated for “Timber,” her last Top 40 hit with Pitbull.
According to Kesha’s filing, between 2005 and 2009, she entered contracts with three entities owned and run by Luke — music production company KMI, music publishing company Prescription, and record label KMI-Kemosabe Records — that she is bound to until she delivers five full-length albums and that under the contracts “KMI is required to pay Kesha royalties” and “Prescription is required to pay Kesha royalties and send Kesha semiannual statements of royalties she is owed.”
However, “Prescription stopped issuing accounting statements and royalty payments to Kesha in violation of the Prescription Contract,” Kesha’s attorney, Pearl, wrote in the court documents. “From the first quarter of 2014 to December 2016, Kesha did not receive from Prescription any statement of the royalties owed to her under the Prescription Contract. From the second quarter of 2014 to December 2016, Kesha did not receive from Prescription any royalties owed to her under the Prescription Contract. It was not until Kesha’s counsel threatened further legal action in 2016 that Dr. Luke released certain funds owed to Kesha in December 2016. Prescription has still not paid Kesha all of the amounts owed. Kesha is also still owed royalties from ‘Timber’ that Dr. Luke has previously sought to block.”
Luke alleges Kesha and her mother “repeatedly expressed their gratitude and admiration” for him over the years.
Both Kesha and her mother, “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You” songwriter Pebe Sebert, have accused Luke of abusing the pop star.
In his court filing, Luke includes alleged correspondence from Kesha and Pebe. In one exhibit — an email from Sept. 26, 2009 — Pebe apparently wrote: “You are part of our family, and I hope you know, as much as you have been there for Kesha and me, that we will always be there for you, as family, and friends, if you need anything.”
In another — an undated birthday card seemingly signed by Kesha — the singer appears to have written: “To the foxxy-est producer EVER! Ur just getting better with time! Thank you 4 helping me make my WILDEST dreams come true! I love you!”
Kesha claims she forwent a seven-figure Voice deal and Broadway opportunity to work on her new music, but her “efforts to advance her album have been met with unreasonable resistance and delay” from Luke.
As PEOPLE reported from the New York Supreme Courthouse last February, a judge dismissed Kesha’s request for a preliminary injunction because Sony and Luke said they would let her record new music without Luke.
At the time, Justice Shirley Kornreich told Kesha’s previous counsel: “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 … 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.”
In Kesha’s latest filing, her attorney says Luke and the label have not made any headway on her next LP.
“Until a hearing in late August 2016, there was no progress on Kesha’s third album: there were no producers approved, no creative meetings with anyone but Dr. Luke’s representatives, no songs approved, no release date set, no budgets put in place, no checks written, and no meeting even between the artist and the record label,” Pearl wrote. “Kesha declined a seven-figure opportunity to serve as a judge on Australia’s The Voice. Kesha also declined multiple opportunities to appear on Broadway. Kesha declined these opportunities so that she would be able to focus her time and effort on recording her new album.”
Kesha previously told the New York Times she has in the past year submitted at least 22 tracks to her label.
“As of the date of this filing, Kesha still does not have the crucial approval of songs, a release date for a single or an album, or a promotional plan,” her attorney wrote in the latest documents. “[A Kemosabe Records A&R consultant in July 2016] admitted that no one from Kemosabe Records had listened to any of the songs and that he himself had only listened to a few. When [the A&R consultant] did provide feedback, it was not until August 9, 2016, nearly two months after [the A&R consultant] received Kesha’s first set of songs.”
In October, Lepera responded to Kesha’s team’s assertion that they are blocking her attempt to record and release new music.
“[Kesha] provided 22 recordings created without any label consultation which were not in compliance with her contract, were in various stages of development, and which Kesha’s own team acknowledged needed work,” Lepera said in a statement to PEOPLE. “Then, and for the last several months, the label has been in discussions with Kesha and her team to choose the best music, create additional music, and work on the tracks created. A&R representatives of both Kemosabe and RCA have provided Kesha with detailed feedback in writing and in person on the tracks she provided to help her further develop the material. Kesha has also agreed with Kemosabe and RCA on a list of producers who will work with her on these tracks, a studio has been reserved for these sessions, and a budget for certain work provided.”