What Happened with Kesha and Dr. Luke: A Timeline of Events

From allegations of abuse to contract disputes, the Kesha and Dr. Luke saga has been a rollercoaster. Get a comprehensive timeline of events and understand the controversy surrounding their relationship.

What Happened with Kesha and Dr. Luke: A Timeline of Events
what happened with kesha and dr luke

A judge has set Kesha and Dr. Luke's trial for July 19, 2023. This rollercoaster controversy has lasted for close to 9 years. Amidst the current legal battles, Kesha dropped her newest album, including a provocative song titled Gag Order.

From allegations of abuse to contract disputes, the Kesha and Dr. Luke saga has been a rollercoaster. Get a comprehensive timeline of events and understand the controversy surrounding their relationship.
MidJourney prompt: a commercial photograph of Kesha, on black isolated plain, hyper realistic skin texture, --no hands --ar 4:5 --s 250 --v 5

This article mentions sexual assault, rape, coercion, and violence. Help is available if you are a victim: National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673.

September 2005

Kesha Rose Sebert dropped out of high school one month prior to her graduation. and then signed a 6 album contract with her producer, Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, otherwise known as "Dr. Luke."


Her former management company DAS Communications filed a multimillion-dollar breach of contract lawsuit against Kesha and Gottwald. This lawsuit is important because Kesha made contradictory statements in the deposition for that lawsuit.  Kesha has since stated that Gottwald "threatened her safety and livelihood" if she didn't lie in the deposition.

January 2014

The controversy raged on, but it came to a head when Kesha checked herself into a rehab client because of severe depression, allegedly because she was raped by Gottwald.

October 2014

In October 2014, Kesha filed a civil lawsuit in California against Gottwald for infliction of emotional distress, sex-based hate crimes, and employment discrimination. She requested that she was allowed to break her contract. Within her pleadings, she alleged that Dr. Luke gave her "sober pills" and then raped her while unconscious. She alleged that Dr. Luke's behavior caused her "severe depression, post-traumatic stress, social isolation, and panic attacks."

On the same day, Gottwald filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court for defamation and breach of contract. Gottwald claimed that Kesha and her mother made "defamatory statements in an attempt to extort Gottwald into releasing Kesha from her exclusive recording agreement."

Kesha then counter-claimed in New York, alleging that Dr. Luke "sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally" abused her. Additionally, the suit alleged he drugged and raped her on two occasions and made threats against Kesha and her family.

June 2015-July 2016

Kesha then added Sony to the mix, and then Gottwald successfully petitioned for Kesha's California lawsuit to be paused until the outcome of the New York lawsuit due to a clause in her contract that stated that New York will be the jurisdiction in case of a breach.

Kesha then filed an emergency injunction. However, on April 6, 2016, New York State Supreme Court Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich denied Kesha's request for a preliminary injunction.  The judge claimed she did not have enough evidence of trauma, and also Sony agreed to allow her to record with a different producer.

The judge wrote, "Every rape is not a gender-motivated hate crime." (Seriously? Justice Kornreich retired in 2018. Tbh, she should have been kicked off the bench with a remark like that. Rape is very definition of a gender-motivated hate crime.)

The hashtag #FreeKeesha was trending at the time with thousands of fans as well as other celebrities like Lady Gaga.

Later, Kesha revealed on Instagram that Gottwald offered her a deal to release her from her record contract in exchange that she recant the accusations of rape. Kesha refused, stating that she would rather let the truth ruin my career than lie for a monster ever again.

August 2016

Kesha dropped her California lawsuit against Gottwald.


Lady Gaga and Katy Perry were involved in a defamation lawsuit. In a 2016 text message to Lady Gage, Kesha claimed Katy Perry was "raped by the same man," which referred to Gottwald. Perry testified that did not happen.  

Meanwhile, a judge ruled that Kesha could not amend her complaint for the third time as she didn’t give appropriate notice to void her songwriting contract.

Later, Gottwald and Sony part ways. Several other celebrities blacklist Gottwald "regardless of whether or not" he raped Kesha.


In May 2018, the New York appeals court upheld the decision of the previous judge, who ruled that Kesha is not allowed to file any more appeals to terminate her contract.

In the Lady Gaga text lawsuit, Lady Gaga was ordered to release unredacted text messages between her and Kesha. Katy Perry confirmed in a deposition that she did not, in fact, get raped. Subsequent text messages came out about Perry, between Lady Gaga and Kesha, calling Perry "mean" because she did not confirm the allegations of rape.


Lady Gaga's deposition came out, where she recounts her first meeting with Gottwald. Lady Gaga recalled that Kesha was in her underwear.


Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Jennifer G. Schecter ruled that Kesha defamed Dr. Luke in a February 2016 text exchange with Lady Gaga in which Kesha alleged that Luke had raped Katy Perry. (Schecter took over because the "Every rape is not a gender-motivated hate crime" judge retired.) Kesha was ordered to pay $373,671.88 in unpaid royalties.


Kesha appealed, but the New York Court of Appeals upheld the lower court, stating that Gottwald was not a public figure. Two judges dissented, noting that Gottwald was "is, at minimum, a limited-purpose public figure."

Kesha argued in the Manhattan Supreme Court that New York’s anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) law should be applied to her case, which was designed prevent wealthy people from filing frivolous lawsuits to intimidate and stifle free speech. The legal battles thus far have centered around whether Gottwald is a "public figure," but private-figure plaintiffs are also obligated to demonstrate actual malice regarding matters of public interest under the anti-SLAPP law.

Justice Schecter subsequently granted Kesha’s motion for a ruling that Civil Rights Law § 76-a (anti-SLAPP) applied retroactively to claims that were pending when it took effect in 2020, which could have applied the actual malice standard to Gottwald’s suit.


The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court reversed, saying “there is insufficient evidence ... that the legislature intended its 2020 amendments to the anti-strategic lawsuit against public participation (antiSLAPP) law" was to be applied retroactively, reversing Justice Schecter's decision.


All is not over yet, though. The New York Court of Appeals heard arguments on April 17, 2023. New York’s top court deliberated over whether Dr. Luke should be considered a “public figure,” which would subject him to proving that Kesha acted with “actual malice” when she disclosed details of the alleged abuse.  Also, the Court heard arguments from Kesha's attorneys, stating that the anti-SLAPP law: "It seems, to me, bizarre to presume that the legislature would not want to provide a remedy for the very people that were the impetus for the statute in the first place."

Kesha and Gottwald's trial is scheduled for July 19, 2023.

Get Kesha's Album

Gag Order (affiliate link) is available to order.

My Prediction

Gottwald will be crucified in court. Kesha is believable. I haven't even seen her on the stand yet, and I already believe her. Her subsequent behavior screams pissed-off survivor, not someone who intended to create false accusations to get out of a contract. She also began doing more albums without much of a legal fight after Sony told her that she would no longer have to work with Gottwald, tangentially proving that it wasn't the contract itself that she didn't want, it was Gottwald.

On the flip side, I don't find Gottwald to be believable at all. The fact that he would not let her break the contract after she filed a civil lawsuit against him ... that's the mark of a bully. It was at that point he and his attorneys should have mediated a contract settlement, wherein she did not need to work with him any longer in exchange for a percentage of the earnings. This is especially true once he merged with Sony, and her music could have been produced by ... anyone else.

His behavior is more akin to pulling a stunt to bully through social media and to garner more fame, which ended up backfiring on him as many celebrities (especially that Sony listened to Kesha's #FreeKesha) no longer want to work with him.

Did Dr. Luke assault Kesha? I have no idea. In the end, it will be up to the jury to decide.