National News

Jury begins deliberating in Taylor Swift case

Posted August 14
Updated August 15

An eight-member jury is deliberating in a civil case involving pop star Taylor Swift and a man she alleges groped her.

Gabriel McFarland, attorney for former radio host David Mueller, stated in his closing arguments Monday that a photo of Mueller posing with Swift at a 2013 meet-and-greet doesn't show her reacting as if Mueller had groped her, which is what Swift has testified.

"Not a single witness who was there gave any indication that they saw Mr. Mueller bend over or lean down to get low enough to get under Ms. Swift's skirt," McFarland said during closing arguments. "In addition, look at Ms. Swift's face and ask yourself: Is that the face of a person who just had a strange man grab her butt?"

"That's the face of someone who is taking a nice photograph," he added.

Mueller denies grabbing Swift and filed suit against the superstar, her mother Andrea Swift and Taylor's radio liaison Frank Bell, accusing them of interfering with his $150,000/year contract as a local morning radio DJ by pressuring his employer, KYGO radio, to fire him. The singer filed a countersuit in response for assault and battery.

She was dismissed as a defendant in Mueller's suit on Friday when a judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence to show that Swift had acted improperly.

"The guy did it," Swift's attorney Douglas Baldridge stated in his closing arguments. "Don't be fooled, don't be snookered. It's his [Mueller's] burden of proof. It's time to stop the victimization in this country and in this courtroom."

The federal suit brought by Mueller continues with just the singer's mother, and Frank Bell, as defendants.

The case went to the jury, comprised of six women and two men, Monday afternoon. After deliberating for more than two hours, the jury asked for clarification on one of the instructions regarding "apprehension."

According to the jury instructions made available by the court, for Swift to recover from Mueller on her claim of assault, the jury "must find that all of the following have been proved by a preponderance of the evidence: 1. David Mueller intended to cause an offensive or harmful physical contact with Taylor Swift or intended to place her in apprehension of such contact; and 2. David Mueller placed Taylor Swift in apprehension of immediate physical contact; and 3. That contact was harmful or offensive."

Attorney McFarland portrayed his client as a man who would not have risked his 20 year career in radio by inappropriately touching Swift. The singer's accusations simply did not make sense and were inconsistent with what others had to say happened that night, McFarland said.

Mueller's suit doesn't seek a specific monetary amount, but an expert retained by the ex-radio host determined that nearly $3 million was a fair compensation for damages. Swift is seeking $1 in her countersuit.

Testimony wraps up

Mueller's legal team rested its case on Friday after four days of testimony, including from the singer herself.

Also Friday, Swift's bodyguard testified that he witnessed Mueller reach his hand under Swift's skirt at the Denver photo-op in what he called a "violation" of her body.

"I know she wasn't comfortable with it, that's why she moved, pushed (her) skirt down and moved closer to the woman," Greg Dent said.

Dent's eyewitness testimony bolsters Swift's allegation that Mueller, a former DJ for Denver radio station KYGO, inappropriately grabbed her buttocks at Denver's Pepsi Center. KYGO is a CNN affiliate.

The photographer at the meet-and-greet, Stephanie Simbeck, testified Thursday that she also witnessed the alleged groping.

Friday's court proceedings also featured testimony from Mueller's then-girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, as well as Mueller's former radio co-host, Ryan Kliesch. Both said they hadn't seen Mueller act disrespectfully toward or inappropriately touch women.

What happened

The singer told her mother, Andrea, and her management team about the incident and identified Mueller as the culprit from a photo, she testified. Her radio promotions director, Frank Bell, told Mueller's bosses at KYGO, who fired Mueller two days later after conducting their own investigation.

In 2015, Mueller sued Swift, her mother, and Bell in civil court, claiming that he did not touch her inappropriately and that he lost his job because of a false accusation.

In response, Swift countersued Mueller for alleged assault and battery. Her lawsuit argued that the trial would "serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts."

Swift delivered pointed testimony on Thursday, including that she had no reaction to learning that Mueller had lost his job.

"I'm not going to allow you or your client to make me feel in any way that this is my fault, because it isn't," she said.

"I am being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions, and not mine," Swift added later.

Much of the trial's testimony has focused on the photo of Swift, Mueller, and Melcher from the meet-and-greet. The image, which has not been officially released but was leaked last year, shows a smiling Mueller with his hand hidden from view behind Swift's lower rear.

Both sides have attempted to use the photo to support their case, but Swift firmly rejected the plaintiff's claim that the photo showed nothing inappropriate.

"This is a photo of him with his hand up my skirt -- with his hand on my ass," she said. "You can ask me a million questions -- I'm never going to say anything different. I never have said anything different."

What's next

The jury of six women and two men will decide the civil trial. After closing arguments, they'll deliberate on the remaining claims - tortious interference with contract against Andrea Swift and Frank Bell, as well as Swift's counterclaim of assault and batter against Mueller. The jury's decision must be unanimous.

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