DENVER (AP) — A judge on Friday threw out a former radio host’s case
against Taylor Swift in a trial that delved into their dueling
lawsuits over whether he groped her during a backstage meet-and-greet
and whether she and her team ruined his career.
U.S. District Judge William Martinez determined that the pop star
could not be held liable because David Mueller failed to prove that
she personally set out to have him fired after the 2013 photo op in
Denver. His identical allegations against Swift’s mother and her
radio liaison will go to jurors for a verdict.
Mueller denies groping Swift and sued the singer, her mother, Andrea
Swift, and their radio handler, Frank Bell, seeking up to $3 million
as compensation for his ruined career.
The singer-songwriter said in her countersuit that she wanted a
symbolic $1 and the chance to stand up for other women. The jury will
still consider her claim.
Swift teared up as the judge read his decision and said there was no
evidence of her actions being insincere. Afterward, her team smiled
and embraced. Mueller’s side didn’t speak.
“I couldn’t be more proud to represent somebody like Taylor Swift
who’s willing to step up in a situation like this,” attorney Douglas
Baldridge said outside court.
The judge’s decision came after days of testimony from the singer and
others and just before jurors were set to hear closing arguments.
Swift spent an hour on the witness stand Thursday defiantly
recounting what she called a “despicable and horrifying and shocking”
encounter before a concert.
“He stayed attached to my bare ass-cheek as I lurched away from him,”
“It was a definite grab. A very long grab,” she added in her
Swift’s testy exchange with Mueller’s attorney occasionally elicited
chuckles — even from the six-woman, two-man jury. She got a laugh
when she said her security guard saw Mueller “lift my skirt” but
someone would have had to have been underneath her to see the actual
groping — “and we didn’t have anyone positioned there.”
Swift testified that after the photo was taken, she tried to get as
far away Mueller as she could. She said she told him and his
girlfriend, who was also in the photo, “thank you for coming” in a
monotone voice before they left.
She also said she was stunned and did not say anything to Mueller or
halt the event after he left because she did not want to disappoint
several dozen people waiting in line for photos with her.
In the image, shown to jurors during opening statements but not
publicly released, Mueller’s hand is behind Swift, just below her
waist. Mueller’s then-girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, is on the other
side of Swift. All three are smiling.
Melcher testified Friday that she saw nothing happen during the brief
encounter and that she and Mueller were rudely confronted and
escorted out of the arena that evening. Melcher said Mueller was
devastated by the accusation.
She said she and Mueller started out as co-workers at country station
KYGO-FM and became romantically involved in February 2013, a few
months before the concert. They drifted apart late in 2013, but
Melcher says they remained friends.