Court’s decision on Kesha lawsuit reveals larger problem

March 19, 2016 — by Eric Sze

Those closely following the music industry might have noticed an artist missing from the top 100 — one who experienced high success in 2012, but also a traumatizing event that 1 in 5 women experience in their lifetime.  

Those closely following the music industry might have noticed an artist missing from the top 100 — one who experienced high success in 2012, but also a traumatizing event that 1 in 5 women experience in their lifetime.  

This artist is none other than pop star Kesha, and in 2005, she experienced sexual assault at the hands of her producer, Dr. Luke.

While she coped with the situation for years, things came to a head after Kesha filed a sexual assault and battery lawsuit against Dr. Luke in 2014.

As sexual battery cases take a long time to resolve, Kesha’s attorney filed a preliminary injunction motion in October 2015, which would permit her to be released from her contract with Sony immediately. Had the preliminary injunction been granted, she would have been allowed to record albums without Luke and get her career back on track after a four-year hiatus. However, to the shock of many, myself included, New York Justice Shirley Kornreich didn’t grant the motion, forcing Kesha to continue working with her purported abuser.

Fans and celebrities, including Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, have taken to Twitter to express their outrage over the ruling with the hashtag #FreeKesha.

Dr. Luke’s abuse of  Kesha has gone on for years. Following the incident, she was told repeatedly by Dr. Luke to “lose weight” and that she was a “fat [expletive] refrigerator.” She consequently started eating less and less, eventually developing an eating disorder.

This took such a huge toll her on health that she was forced to check into a rehab center. Doctors at Kesha’s rehab facility in 2014 said that continued contract with Dr. Luke could be life-threatening to her. She was suffering from bulimia nervosa, a type of eating disorder, and her blood pressure and sodium levels were comparable to those of patients who experienced a heart attack or stroke.

After Kesha filed her lawsuit, Dr. Luke then filed a counterclaim. He didn’t mention any case of sexual assault, but hinted that by breaking her contract, she wouldn’t be following her contract with Sony, the company to which she was beholden at the time, as well as the company behind Dr. Luke’s label, Kemosabe Records. They have also argued that Kesha could still continue to record under Dr. Luke’s label, but without his physical involvement. Along with Sony, Dr. Luke denies the allegations, and claims that Kesha is only accusing him to get out of her contract.

But this is simply unreasonable, and doesn’t solve Kesha’s problem. It’s like being in a house where the electricity and water is controlled by someone who abused you, or being in a car while your abuser controls the accelerator, brake and steering wheel. She can’t possibly feel safe in that kind of environment

All this leads into a bigger problem involving the courtrooms. It’s extremely difficult to convince courts of rape, especially in Kesha’s case, since the assault happened 10 years ago. Bruises and injuries heal. Bodily fluids wash away. That, coupled with the fact that sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes in the nation makes it difficult to convince the judges when victims do step forward against their attacker. Rape is already an underreported crime, with only 46 percent reported, and only 25 percent  of those reported will get arrested, and only 25 percent of the arrested will be sentenced to a felony conviction.

There has been debate about California’s statute of limitations law being applied to sexual assault cases, since it would require plaintiffs to bring up the assault within two years rather than 10 years. The statute of limitations law in its essence means that plaintiffs must file a lawsuit within two years of alleged breach oral contracts.

Although this could be applied to sexual assault cases, like Kesha’s, and might be helpful for bringing up evidence during cases, it could possibly pressure victims to speak out against something that they aren’t comfortable talking about — especially since today’s society often shuns sexual assault victims. Phrases like “You were asking for it,” “Don’t drink too much,” and “Don’t dress so sexy,” aren’t uncommonly said to victims.

And yet, the court still ruled against Kesha, essentially sending a horrible message to rape victims: that in order to convince a court of rape, they need to strap a camera to their head and make sure that they record the assault while it’s happening.

This isn’t just a theme that occurs in pop culture, but also a theme that occurs over and over again in college, where studies according to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center have shown that 1 in 4 college women are sexual assault victims.

When sexual assault occurs so frequently and the assaulters are rarely convicted, it’s a pretty clear indication that something is wrong with today’s society.

However, there’s still light at the end of this tunnel, because the judge only ruled against the preliminary injunction. There’s still a chance for Kesha to get out of her contract with Dr. Luke, and although the light appears dim, I will ride with Kesha. Pop needs its Warrior.

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