In the legal complaint the singer Kesha filed against Dr. Luke for abuse and harassment in October 2014, there’s a passage that alleges the music producer born Lukasz Gottwald at one point “took her down to the beach alone to ‘have a talk’ with her.” Gottwald, the lawsuit says, then “threatened that if she ever mentioned the rape to anyone, he would shut her career down, take away all her publishing and recording rights, and otherwise destroy not only her life but her entire family’s lives as well.”
Kesha’s publishing and recording rights are, in fact, under contention now that she has accused Gottwald—the prolific hitmaker who signed her in 2005, when she was 18—of a pattern of sexual assault and mental abuse. But, despite a court setback, perhaps the events of the past 72 hours eased some concerns about her long-term prospects for a career in the public eye. A legal defeat on Friday has generated an outpouring of support from high-profile members of the music industry, whose statements, taken together, suggest that at the very least Kesha won’t emerge from this saga as a pariah among her peers.
After a New York judge denied Kesha’s lawyer’s motion for a preliminary injunction that would release her from terms of her contract with Gottwald’s label Kemosabe Records, the image of Kesha sobbing in the courtroom rocketed around the Internet. A #FreeKesha hashtag that predated even this lawsuit—fans have long suspected an unhealthy relationship between Kesha and Gottwald—blew up on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere. Jack Antonoff, the rock musician who produced parts of Taylor Swift’s 1989, publicly offered to work with Kesha, contracts be damned. Swift herself sent $250,000 to help out with Kesha’s expenses. But the messages that seemed the most potent came from people who had worked with Gottwald, including Kelly Clarkson, who tweeted that she was saying nothing about the producer because she had nothing nice to say about him. In response, Gottwald, for the first time, has personally commented on the case, asserting his innocence on Twitter and reminding the public that he’s been charged with no crimes at all.