Although Kesha’s court battle with Dr. Luke is far from over, the singer just faced a major setback. On Thursday New York Supreme Court Judge Jennifer G. Schechter ruled that Kesha defamed Dr. Luke by saying in a text message to Lady Gaga that the music producer had raped Katy Perry. She also determined that contrary to Kesha’s attorneys’ argument, the producer is not a public figure—meaning he will not need to prove actual malice in his defamation claim against Kesha for alleging that he raped her.
Kesha first sued Dr. Luke in the fall of 2014, with allegations including sexual assault and battery, as well as emotional abuse. Dr. Luke filed his counter-suit on the same day, claiming defamation. A judge denied Kesha’s injunction to be released from her record contract in 2015, and in 2016 the singer dropped her California sexual abuse lawsuit, continuing the battle instead in New York court.
As Variety notes, Perry denied Kesha’s allegation that Dr. Luke had assaulted her in a deposition. With no further evidence to support the claim, Judge Schechter ruled Kesha had defamed the producer. She also ordered that Kesha pay Dr. Luke $374,000 in interest for delayed royalty payments. Kesha’s legal team will appeal the decision, and it remains for a jury to rule on Kesha’s rape claim against Dr. Luke, and the producer’s own counter-claim of defamation for that allegation.
A representative for Kesha provided The Daily Beast with a statement from the singer’s legal team: “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.” A representative for Dr. Luke wrote that he “looks forward to the trial of his case where he will prove that Kesha's other false statements about him” apart from the rape allegation “were equally false and defamatory.”