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Lady Gaga Defends Kesha and Highlights the Ways in Which the Legal System Fails Victims of Sexual Assault

Gaga's eloquent testimony in the Dr. Luke case pinpoints everything wrong with our justice system's treatment of women.

Lady Gaga arrives at the 25th Annual ELLE Women in Hollywood Celebration at the Four Seasons Hotel at Beverly Hills on October 15, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

Lady Gaga’s 2017 deposition in the sexual assault case of Kesha vs. Lukas “Dr. Luke” Gottwald has been unsealed, and Gaga’s testimony is an eloquent indictment of the ways in which the justice system fails victims of sexual assault. The legal battle, which has continued since 2014, began when Kesha sued Dr. Luke to get out of her recording contract, claiming that the music producer sexually assaulted and abused her repeatedly. Gottwald then counter-sued Kesha for defamation.

Gaga was subpoenaed in the defamation lawsuit, based on a series of text exchanges between herself and Kesha, where Kesha said that Gottwald had assaulted her. Throughout the testimony Gaga, a survivor of sexual assault herself, repeatedly called out the biases and the trauma inflicted on survivor’s during the legal process.

The deposition began with a statement from Gaga’s lawyer, saying “I just want everyone to understand that, as she has publicly stated in other contexts, as a sex abuse survivor, and I know this from my own personal experience with family members, there are trigger events, and this deposition has proved to be a trigger event for Ms. Germanotta … And she has experienced in the past few hours some PTSD reactions which is causing some trauma and emotional reactivity. So she is crying now the record will reflect.”

Gaga then describes meeting Kesha for the first time at Dr. Luke’s house, where the singer was in a back room in her underwear, and their growing friendship. Gaga described supporting her friend as she detailed the allegations of years of abuse, saying “What we discussed was, what I recall was her immense sadness and depression and fear. She was visibly very different than when I had seen her before, and – but I can’t say specifically what we spoke about. I just recall it was emotional and I wanted to be there for her.”

When questioned about whether or not the rape allegations damaged Dr. Luke’s reputation, Gaga said, “Reputation, if you are asking about his reputation in the world, I don’t feel at liberty to speak for the entire world. So if you are asking what my view is of his reputation, I made my view of him and his reputation when I saw her in that back room. That was an image that – of something that happened to me, and I felt and knew in my heart that she was telling the truth, and I believe her.”

Gottwald’s lawyers pressed Gaga for any evidence or proof of the assaults outside of Kesha’s confession (because a woman’s account is worth so little to the legal system) Gaga angrily replied, “Well, you know – when men assault women, they don’t invite people over to watch.”

She continued, saying, “And when this happens in this industry, it is kept extremely secret, and it is compounded by contracts and manipulative power scenarios that actually include this very situation that we are all in right now.”

The lawyers press on, asking her if she believes if there has ever been a false accusation of rape (in all of human history?) but Gaga quickly responded with, “You – how about all of the women that are accused of being liars and how she was slut shamed in front of the world, how about that?”

This line of questioning, and the burden of proof placed on the victim in sexual assault cases, is designed to traumatize and degrade the victim, despite statistics to the contrary that only about 8% of rape accusations are false. And due to the trauma involved, many victims don’t come forward until years after their attack, which often extends past the statute of limitations. It’s all part and parcel of a system built to defend the accused and victimize the accusers.

When asked why she believes Kesha’s account, Gaga said, “I have factual knowledge of her depression. I have factual knowledge of her need for support and love. I have factual knowledge of the spiral that I watched that girl go down. I have factual knowledge of trauma. I am informed and intelligent about this issue. That girl has experienced serious trauma and she is in the middle of the right now. And you are all a party to it.”

She continued, “Why on earth would this girl tell the entire world this happened? Why on earth? Do you know what it’s like for survivors? Do you know what it’s like to tell people? Don’t you roll your eyes at me. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Gaga’s testimony is both a valiant defense of her friend and an incisive indictment of how the justice system continually fails victims and distrusts women. Here’s hoping that both Gaga and Kesha find peace and support and that the #MeToo movement makes concrete strides in changing the way we address and process sexual assault. It’s a movement that is long overdue.

(via Rolling Stone, image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.