The pop super-producer and songwriter known as Dr. Luke has dropped a defamation lawsuit against the singer Kesha, a former protégé who had accused him of rape in a 2014 lawsuit, the two parties announced in a joint statement on Thursday. The announcement signaled the end of a nearly decade-long legal saga that has riveted the music world and come to define both artists’ intertwining public narratives.
The statement, posted to social media accounts belonging to both individuals, said that Kesha and Dr. Luke had “agreed to a joint resolution of the lawsuit,” which was scheduled to go to trial next month in New York after years of delays.
In a pair of quotes attributed to each musician separately but presented together, Kesha said, “Only God knows what happened that night,” adding: “As I have always said, I cannot recount everything that happened. I am looking forward to closing the door on this chapter in my life and beginning a new one. I wish nothing but peace to all parties involved.”
Dr. Luke, born Lukasz Gottwald, added, “While I appreciate Kesha again acknowledging that she cannot recount what happened that night in 2005, I am absolutely certain that nothing happened. I never drugged or assaulted her and would never do that to anyone. For the sake of my family, I have vigorously fought to clear my name for nearly 10 years. It is time for me to put this difficult matter behind me and move on with my life. I wish Kesha well.”
In a ruling earlier this month, the New York Court of Appeals reversed an earlier decision by a lower court, calling Dr. Luke a “public figure,” which would have raised the bar to prove defamation at trial by requiring him to prove that Kesha had acted with actual malice. The court added said that a state judge should have allowed Kesha to file counterclaims against Dr. Luke for distress and damages.
No criminal charges were ever filed in the case. The legal back-and-forth began when Kesha claimed in a 2014 civil filing in California that she should be released from her recording contract with Dr. Luke, one of the industry’s most successful behind-the-scenes figures, because the producer had “sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally abused” her since she was a teenager. The singer cited a 2005 incident not long after the pair began working together in which Kesha said she was drugged and raped by Dr. Luke after a party.
The pair worked closely for the next decade, selling millions of albums and scoring two No. 1 hits, “Tik Tok,” in 2009, and “We R Who We R,” in 2010. But in her 2014 lawsuit, Kesha said that abuse from the producer, which included insults about her appearance and weight, had pushed her to the point that she “nearly lost her life.” Eventually, as the #FreeKesha campaign built online, stars including Adele, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Fiona Apple, Ariana Grande and Kelly Clarkson rallied behind Kesha’s cause.
Lawyers for Dr. Luke, a notoriously private figure in the industry, said throughout the legal battle that the rape and abuse accusations — which they called “extortionist threats” by Kesha, her mother and their lawyer at the time, Mark Geragos — stemmed only from contentious contract negotiations that began in 2013.
Dr. Luke countersued for defamation in New York, and pointed to additional contracts that Kesha signed after the alleged 2005 rape, in addition to a sworn deposition, from 2011, in which Kesha said, “Dr. Luke never made sexual advances at me.”
In a statement on Thursday, Christine Lepera, a lawyer for Dr. Luke, said the producer “has been consistent from day one that Kesha’s accusations against him were completely false. Kesha’s voluntary public statement clears Luke’s name as it proves she had no ground to accuse him of any wrongdoing.”