Kesha drops assault claims against Dr Luke in LA, but not New York

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Update 2nd August 2016:

Kesha has dropped sexual assault claims against Dr Luke in California, however, she will continue with them in New York, read an official statement released early this week.

‘Kesha has dismissed her California action without prejudice while she pursues her appeal and other legal claims in the New York courts,’ the 29-year-old’s counsel, Daniel Petrocelli, said in an official statement to Rolling Stone.

‘Kesha is focused on getting back to work and has delivered 28 new songs to the record label. We have conveyed to Sony and the label Kesha’s strong desire to release her next album and single as soon as possible.’

Throughout the ongoing trial, the singer has not been able to release any new music as she is on Dr Luke’s label.

The singer-songwriter took to Instagram to post the news, writing:

‘My fight continues. I need to get my music out. I have so much to say. This lawsuit is so heavy on my once free spirit, and I can only pray to one day feel that happiness again. I am continuing to fight for my rights in New York. Thank you for all your support. The support of my fans has been so beautiful and I’m so grateful for it. I’m Not sure where I would be without you all.’

On 7th April we wrote:

Yesterday Kesha’s appeal to escape her recording contract with SONY was dismissed by a judge in New York.

To keep up to date with the Kesha case, here’s a really quick summary of what’s been going on with the singer. (As a heads up, this isn’t going to be a fun read).

In 2014, Kesha filed a claim of sexual assault against ‘Dr Luke’ (real name, Lukasz Gottwald) – her producer at SONY. Kesha said that she had been drugged and raped by Gottwald, and that she’d been emotionally abused by the producer too. She’s currently suing him for sexual assault, battery, harassment and emotional distress. But right now, she wants to break free from her contract with SONY, not least because Dr Luke stands to profit directly from her music – regardless of whether she works with him or not.

But yesterday a judge in New York, Shirley Kornreich, said that Kesha must continue to adhere to the terms and conditions of her record deal – and must continue to record music for the company. And Kornreich also refuted Kesha’s claims that Dr Luke was guilty of a hate crime.

‘There are no facts to support Gottwald’s animus toward women. Gottwald is alleged to have made offensive remarks about Kesha’s weight, appearance, and talent, not about women in general,’ said the judge. ‘Every rape is not a gender-motivated hate crime.’

Similarly, the judge ruled that Kesha’s claims that Dr Luke told her she was worthless and should stop eating did not count as emotional abuse. ‘Her claims of insults about her value as an artist, her looks, and her weight are insufficient to constitute ‘extreme, outrageous conduct intolerable in civil society,’ which is how the law defines emotional abuse,’ said Kornreich.

This is not Kesha’s final chance to escape her contract – she has an appeal lodged with a court in Los Angeles, too. But nevertheless, the judge’s refusal to treat an alleged rape as an alleged hate crime against women is worth noting.

Rape, whatever the circumstances, is always an extreme act of violence. While Dr Luke may eventually be found innocent of sexual assault (and we have to acknowledge that he has denied the claims), Kornreich’s statement is a significant step backwards for equality.

Because one rape is not worse than another rape. There’s no scale of severity that can be applied. And while the apparent, surface-level motivations behind an alleged rape might vary, every single assault against a woman contributes to a world where all women are seen as objects for men to sexualise and control.

And until we acknowledge that all sexual assaults are ‘gender motivated’, we’re never going to get anywhere.

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