#FreeKesha – a trend on Twitter that was popularized when musician Kesha revealed that Lukasz Gottwald (Dr Luke) sexually assaulted and drugged her, therefore she wanted to be free to make music without him. A more than reasonable request. However, as Kesha was – and still is – bound to a contract with Sony (a label affiliated with Dr Luke), it wasn’t going to be so easy.
Fast-forward to February 19 and Kesha finds herself in court being told that she can’t cut her ties as: there is no medical evidence in support of the assault, “Sony would suffer irreparable harm” if she left (i.e. would lose money), plus, Judge Shirley Kornreich said that Sony have already allowed her to record without Dr Luke, yet Sony has a vested interested in promoting the alleged abuser, so it would still be benefitting him which Kesha doesn’t want.
On February 22, Dr Luke took to Twitter to explain his side of the story. The twenty-two tweets include one which reads: “I didn’t rape Kesha and I have never had sex with her. Kesha and I were friends for many years and she was like my little sister”.
He also included a link which shows Kesha denying, under oath, that she had ever been roofied by him or that they had ever had any kind of “intimate relationship” (video here). On the contrary, a representative for Kesha said, as reported by NME, that “she had been coerced into lying during the testimony”. The battle continues even as I type, but you get the gist.
Who do I believe? I’m leaning towards Kesha, but I don’t believe without a shadow of a doubt that Dr Luke is guilty.
We live in a culture where women are either not believed and even blamed for sexual advances that happen to them, and it’s important not to forget that. This doesn’t mean that every woman who says she’s raped should be believed, what it does mean is that she is likely telling the truth.
A woman highlighting an offence like this usually results in victim blaming and, quite frankly, it’s not something that many would lie about. According to Men Against Abuse Now, “only about 2% of all rape and related sex charges are determined to be false”.
In regards to the reasoning for the Kesha verdict, the fact that the judge seemed to care more about Sony losing money more than a potential sexual assault victim’s safety/mentality was messed up. I understand why breaking a contract that a company has invested in is damaging, but so is disallowing a victim of assault to feel safer and relinquish any association with their abuser. Even if she was somehow lying, her grief and distress in the courtroom was clear for all to see.
Judge Kornreich was right about something though: there is no evidence against Dr Luke. However, we have no idea how difficult it was to obtain said evidence. Who else was there besides Dr Luke that could stand up for her? Would he have allowed her to go to a medical professional if doing so would have landed him in serious trouble? Medical evidence can’t always be obtained. Does that mean that everyone who is sexually assaulted but can’t provide any evidence (medical or otherwise) is a liar? No, but (unfortunately) it does make it very hard to prove.
If we’re literally going with proof, then I can’t side with anyone, but if we’re going with likelihood based on culture/media influence, that’s a different story altogether.
At the end of the day, I don’t know what the verdict should have been on February 19, but what I do know is that Kesha’s story seems more likely in my personal opinion. People are often coerced into lying; people do seemingly stupid things to protect themselves; and just because one person says one thing, doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth. This goes both ways.
Whatever the reality, I hope that justice is served. If not now, then eventually.
Words by Shanade McConney