Katy Perry Denies Dr. Luke Raped Her in Deposition; Producer Claims Kesha's Team Conspired to 'Ruin' Him
Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, Adam Levine and others' depositions were also released.
In a highly redacted deposition dated July 21, 2017, and released Monday (Aug. 27), Perry said she was aware that Kesha had made a statement that Luke raped her but said she was never raped by Luke. When pressed on further details, Perry also said she was never given a roofie by Luke, never in a sexual or romantic relationship with Luke and never told anyone -- even jokingly -- that Luke raped her.
The claims became a central part of Luke's defamation lawsuit against Kesha -- who says Luke raped her and gave her drugs against her will -- earlier this summer, with Luke's team claiming then that Kesha told Lady Gaga in a text message conversation that Luke had raped Perry as well. Kesha, in turn, responded saying that her and Gaga had been both told that information first by a major label CEO, deflecting her liability over the claim's validity.
It turns out Interscope Geffen A&M Records chairman and CEO John Janick is the major label head who spread that misinformation, according to Gaga's own heavily redacted deposition.
In Gaga's deposition, she says Janick told her and Kesha "he had heard a rumor" about Luke and Perry. (Janick, in his own deposition, denied this.) Following up on the specifics, Gaga said she wasn't sure if he used the word "rumor," and didn't "recall exactly the way he said it." She said, "I just recall that it was brought up" -- by him.
When asked whether Janick said anything further on the subject of Luke and Perry, Gaga continued, "He was there to be supportive to her, and I had a conversation with him and her about what we can do to speak with Sony about potentially maybe bringing her over to Interscope, and that I would look after her."
Perry is currently signed with Capitol Records. Both Capitol and Interscope are owned by Universal Music Group.
Gaga was further pressed on specifics about Janick's claims regarding the allegation of Luke raping Perry, to which she replied: "He said something like I heard he raped Katy, too."
Janick, in his own deposition, said he only met Perry once and was never told directly she had been raped by Luke. He said he did not recall specifically whether he had ever told anyone that Luke raped Perry, adding later that he did not tell that to Kesha and Gaga.
In a statement to Billboard, a spokesperson for Interscope said, "As his deposition makes clear, John Janick was simply a bystander to a conversation; not a participant in it," says the statement. "Although John is not a party to this litigation, he voluntarily provided factual responses to questions from both sides’ attorneys."
In Janick's deposition, the label boss also denied ever taking part in an organized "campaign" against Luke based on Kesha's allegations, claiming he never told anyone in the music industry they shouldn't work with the producer. But that's a claim now that Luke's legal team is raising against some other high-profile members of the music industry, including Irving Azoff and Kesha's managers Jack Rovner and Ken Levitan.
According to emails obtained in litigation, dating back to 2012, as Kesha's team worked to get her out of her deal with Luke's Kemosabe Records label, Rovner emailed Azoff -- who was chairman on Live Nation at the time -- with an update on their negotiations, asking Azoff to "please keep the Jihad going" against Luke.
Azoff replied that he would put Luke "in the penalty box" and would also kill plans the producer had going with Simon Cowell to create a boy band on The X Factor. "Around every corner Luke goes I will be waiting to slap him silly," wrote Azoff. "What an idiot."
A couple months later, as Kesha and Luke worked to complete her sophomore album, Warrior, but contract negotiations were ongoing, Azoff wrote to Levitan, "Get me in the mix, I will ruin him," referring to Luke. To which, Levitan replied they should wait to "ruin him after he delivers" the album.
The problems with Luke and Kesha's camp continued, as the producer threatened to withhold approval over episodes of the 2013 MTV documentary series Kesha: My Crazy Beautiful Life. While Levitan complained Luke was "killing" Kesha's career, he also suggested going to the press "with everything [Luke] is doing." He continued, "Let's battle this guy in the press. Take down his business."
"When I was Chairman of Live Nation, I was responsible for the management division which included Kesha’s managers," Azoff told Billboard in a statement. "In May 2012, her managers, Jack and Ken, came to me as Kesha was in distress: she was trapped in a contract with a person she despised. I remember being shocked by the onerous creative control that was being spitefully inflicted on this young artist -- from not allowing her to choose cover art or decide what songs went on her record. I jumped to her defense and I will always defend any artist from being mistreated."
In 2014, Kesha's team hired the counsel of Sunshine Sachs to handle a public relations campaign orchestrated around the artist's lawsuit against Luke, court documents show. The stated "goal," says a memo from Sunshine Sachs, was to "help extricate Client K [presumably Kesha] from her current professional relationship with Person L [presumably Dr. Luke] by inciting a deluge of negative media attention and public pressure on the basis of the horrific personal abuses presented in the lawsuit." That plan included feeding the suit to TMZ before the suit was filed and reviewing the article's text before editing.
Luke legal team issued a statement on Monday outlining an alleged conspiracy against their client. "In 2014, Kesha filed a bogus Complaint against Dr. Luke - which she has voluntarily dismissed - falsely claiming that he drugged and raped her in 2005," it read. "Now, after four years of litigation, it is Dr. Luke's defamation claim that remains. Evidence is now publicly available to show that Kesha's Complaint was filed pursuant to a 'Press Plan' and PR media blitz, designed to create the maximum negative public pressure on Dr. Luke in order to get him to give in to her contract demands.
"Having done all of the damage publicizing her false claim of rape for years, Kesha now has asked Dr. Luke to not speak publicly about the evidence just being revealed... even though this is the first time Dr. Luke has the opportunity to do so with some of the actual facts. Ironic, indeed."
Kesha's legal team responded on Monday, saying "Kesha's experience as a victim of abuse, as reflected in the evidence that was unsealed earlier today, will be all-too-familiar to many women around the country."
The statement went on to rebuff Luke's camp's claims, asserting that beyond her claims of assault and abuse, her actions have "never been about money." As proof, they point to a testimony from her former attorney, Kenneth Meiselas, "showing that Kesha was willing to let Dr. Luke and his companies continue to earn money from her songs, if she did not have to be in the same room with him." Those negotiations ultimately failed, the statement read, "because Kesha could not agree to, among other things, the terms of the requested non-disclosure agreement."
The statement continued, "Before Kesha filed a complaint against Dr. Luke in 2014 as a last resort when she had no other options, her attorneys engaged public-relations specialists at Sunshine Sachs, because the attorneys knew that Dr. Luke's public-relations strategy would be ruthless, and Kesha would have to respond. As expected, the deposition transcripts in this case reveal that Dr. Luke's litigation strategy has been straight out of the blame-the-victim playbook, intended to humiliate and intimidate Kesha into issuing a retraction of her statements. But Kesha has never wavered in her account of Dr. Luke's abuse, even in the face of mocking laughter and highly inappropriate questions by Dr. Luke's team, who seek to call into question her credibility as a victim asking questions that most certainly would be barred by most states' laws intended to protect victims. One of the first things that Dr. Luke did after filing this retaliatory lawsuit against Kesha was publicly release 2011 testimony in which Kesha denied that Dr. Luke made sexual advances. But Kesha has since testified that Dr. Luke threatened before her 2011 testimony that he would take away her and her family's livelihood if she failed to protect him. These types of denials are common in cases where a power disparity leaves the victim too fearful of retaliation to tell the truth."
Kesha's team added: "Finally, Kesha's immediate reporting of the October 2005 incident squarely refutes Dr. Luke's Legal Team's claim today that Kesha's managers concocted the allegation to get her out of her recording contract. Kesha testified that Dr. Luke told her when she signed her initial contract that it would be renegotiated if she was successful, as is customary in the music industry. By 2012, Kesha's management team was justifiably frustrated that Dr. Luke was unreasonably refusing to renegotiate, even after Kesha's 2010 platinum hit album, Animal. In fact, Kesha remains under her initial contracts with Dr. Luke today despite this lawsuit, with the unfairness of those deals reflected in the fact that she has yet to be paid any album-sale royalties from the highly successful, Grammy-nominated Rainbow album or 2013's Timber. Indeed, the only reason the Rainbow album was allowed to be made was a commitment to the Court by Sony and Dr. Luke that Dr. Luke would have no involvement in the recording of the album, the separation that Kesha has consistently sought since early in their relationship."
Meanwhile, Perry, Gaga and Janick's depositions were just some of many released in the case on Monday, also including Kelly Clarkson, Adam Levine, Sony Music Entertainment EVP Business Affairs/General Counsel Julie Swidler and others.
In Clarkson's deposition, she noted how she refused to take songwriting credit on her 2009 single "My Life Would Suck Without You" -- a subject she broached publicly last year.
"I just didn't take credit because I don't want my name near his," she said. "That's how much I dislike him."
She also recalled telling Luke during the song's production in 2008, "I don't like you" and "I don't want you in my life." That was the last encounter she says that she had with him.
Clarkson said she never met Kesha personally and doesn't have any independent knowledge of the lawsuit between Luke and Kesha beyond media reports. In response to a question about whether she's ever seen Luke upset with anyone, she said she saw Luke be "dismissive and belittling" but not to the point where he would "blow up" at anyone.
Otherwise, Clarkson said that through her label she had heard other musicians also didn't like working with him, specifically P!nk, and that the label (RCA) said, "We're having a hard time with him working with other people ... actually, almost every female at our label doesn't like working with him."
She added, "In general, I don't know anyone that likes him."
In response to a question about what she's heard about why others don't like him, she said, "People have said he is sleazy."
Levine's deposition meanwhile showed far less understanding of the situation, or Luke in general. He recalled working with Luke fairly indirectly on Maroon 5 song "Sugar" and the R. City track "Locked Away," on which Levine was featured and co-wrote, but did not have much knowledge of Luke's production company, Prescription Songs, or his record label, Kemosabe Records. He also acknowledged working with Prescription-signed songwriters Ammar Malik and J Kash on a Maroon 5 song called "Don't Wanna Know" and had not been aware both were affiliated with Luke's company. ("I am aware of J Kash's affiliation, not Ammar Malik," he said.")
Overall, Levine said he had heard about the allegations against Luke but never directed any of his representatives that he would never work with the producer again. Still, it would cause him to consider whether he would want to work with Luke in the future.
"They're very unpleasant allegations, and I don't know how they wouldn't cause one to think about whether they'd work with somebody again," said Levine.
Swidler's deposition dove more into the specifics of how Sony -- the parent company of RCA and Kemosabe -- handled Kesha's claims against Luke when they first arose. She recalled the complaint detailing Luke's "sexual exploitations," while his partner was pregnant with his daughter.
She said, "I remember the complaint specifically mentioned Doug Morris by name which I was very surprised about, not just Sony Music, and I remember that there were allegations of an incident involving Luke and Kesha where she woke up and thought that he had had sex with her."
Swidler continued, saying that she was concerned, particularly given that Kesha and her team were trying to get out of the contract, "that a settlement in my view would be impossible if this was the kind of allegations that were going to be brought."
Luke's attorney Christine Lepera asked, "In your view, did Kesha's allegations of her rape, alleged rape and drugging by Dr. Luke deter artists from working with him?"
Swidler replied, "In my view, yes."
Lepera: "In your view, did Kesha's allegations of her alleged rape and drugging by Dr. Luke deter artists from either working with or signing to the Kemosabe Records label?"
Lepera: "In that respect in your view, did these allegations by Kesha, were they a factor in a negative way to the financial performance of Kemosabe Records?"
Swidler: "In my view, yes."
According to one expert, Arthur L. Erk, the alleged defamation has cost Luke and his businesses more than $50 million in potential revenue.
Additional reporting by Dan Rys.