Taylor Swift won her $1 groping trial against a DJ: Here’s everything you need to know

Taylor swift
Taylor Swift. Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The INSIDER Summary:

  • Taylor Swift spent a week in court, because of a pair of lawsuits stemming from an alleged assault incident.
  • Denver-based DJ David Mueller was fired after allegedly grabbing her butt before a concert.
  • Mueller sued Swift, accusing Swift of slander and for interfering with his employment.
  • Swift sued back, accusing Mueller of assault.
  • Swift’s testimony was fiery: “I am critical of your client for sticking his hand under my skirt and grabbing my arse,” she said Thursday.
  • She won both cases and promised to donate money to organisations that defend sexual assault victims.

Taylor Swift’s week-long trial is at an end. And she is victorious.

After spending all of last week in a courtroom in Denver, the judge and jury ruled in favour of Swift lawsuits over whether a radio DJ lifted her skirt and assaulted her in 2013.

“I am critical of your client for sticking his hand under my skirt and grabbing my arse,” Swift said in a court testimony Thursday.

There were, in essence, two cases at work: One was whether Swift got the DJ wrongfully fired after the incident, and the other was over whether the DJ did in fact grope Swift.

The first case was ruled in Swift’s favour on Friday. The second was awarded to Swift by a jury on Monday night, with Swift winning a symbolic $US1. She promised to donate money “to multiple organisations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.”

How did Swift end up in a courtroom in Denver? It’s all part of a tangle of lawsuits the celebrity is involved in, stretching back to an alleged incident in 2013 with a former radio host named David Mueller.

Here’s the full story.

Swift accused Mueller of grabbing her butt while they were taking a photo.

On June 2, 2013, Swift performed a concert at Denver’s Pepsi Center. Before the show, she held a meet-and-greet where David Mueller, a host for the city’s country music radio station KYGO, was present. Mueller — whose known as “Jackson” on the radio — and his then-girlfriend Shannon Melcher posed for a photo with Swift.

Later that night, according to The Hollywood Reporter, a member of Swift’s security team “approached Mueller and accused him of touching her inappropriately.”

“Right as the moment came for us to pose for the photo, he took his hand and put it up my dress and grabbed onto my arse cheek and no matter how much I scooted over it was still there,” Swift said in a 2016 deposition, a transcript of which was obtained by Billboard. “It was completely intentional, I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.”

Later that night, Swift’s radio promotion director, Frank Bell, told KYGO about the incident.

Two days later, KYGO fired Mueller.

According to court documents cited by the Associated Press, KYGO cited a morality clause in Mueller’s contract that “allows his employer to fire him for conduct that could reflect unfavorably on the station or its sponsors.” Mueller’s base salary was $US150,000 per year, and he’s been working in radio for around 20 years.

Mueller sued Swift for slander and for interfering with his employment.

It took two years for Mueller to take legal action. In September 2015, he sued Swift for slander and for interfering with his employment contract, saying he didn’t do anything wrong, and alleged that his radio boss was the real person who groped Swift. He’s seeking $US3 million in damages.

Mueller has not filed a lawsuit against KYGO.

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Swift fans are lining up every morning to get into the courthouse and watch the trial. Theo Stroomer/Getty Images

In part of his lawsuit, Mueller cites the photograph taken with Swift — obtained by TMZ — as evidence of his innocence.

“The contention that Mr. Mueller lifted up Ms. Swift’s skirt and grabbed her bottom, while standing with his girlfriend, in front of Ms. Swift’s photographer and Ms. Swift’s highly trained personal security personnel, during a company sponsored [event] is nonsense,” reads a copy of Mueller’s lawsuit. “Particularly given that Ms. Swift’s skirt is in place and is not being lifted by Mr. Mueller’s hand in the photograph.”

A judge tossed out the slander allegation in May of this year, but allowed the case to move forward on the charges of Swift interfering with Mueller’s contract (the legal principle is called “tortious interference.”)

Swift countersued, accusing Mueller of assault.

In October 2015, Swift sued Mueller on charges of assault.

“Ms. Swift knows exactly who committed the assault — it was Mueller,” the countersuit says. “Mueller alone was the perpetrator of the humiliating and wrongful conduct targeted against Ms. Swift, and will serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts … He lifted her skirt and groped her.”

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Swift’s brother and publicist are both attending the case. Theo Stroomer/Getty Images

Swift originally said she would donate court winnings to “charitable organisations dedicated to protecting women from similar acts of sexual assault and personal disregard” and then later revised her request to a symbolic $US1.

People connected to the case have been in court all week.

A Denver court is now in trial for Mueller’s lawsuit against Swift. Swift’s mother, Andrea Swift, Mueller himself, Frank Bell, Shannon Melcher, and Swift’s bodyguard Greg Dent are all witnesses in the case, as is Swift herself.

On the stand on Tuesday, Mueller said he made physical contact with Swift, but denied it was inappropriate. He said he didn’t know anything was amiss until his conversation with Swift’s security.

“I want to clear my name,” Mueller said. “It’s a humiliating experience to be accused of something so despicable.”

Andrea Swift testified on Wednesday. She said her daughter was shaken that night, and that the alleged groping shattered her trust in who could meet with Swift at the meet-and-greets hosted before concerts.

“I went into the dressing room and I saw her face,” Andrea Swift told jurors. “I could see that there was something horribly wrong.”

She said that the entire experience has been painful for them.

“I was upset to the extent that I wanted to vomit and cry at the same time,” Andrea Swift said. “It was inconceivable to us that this could take place, how it took place, and where it took place.”

Taylor Swift: “I am critical of your client for sticking his hand under my skirt and grabbing my arse.”

On Thursday, Swift delivered her testimony on the stand in precise and colourful language.

“What Mr. Mueller did was very intentional,” Swift said. “I am critical of your client for sticking his hand under my skirt and grabbing my arse.”

“He stayed attached to my bare arse-cheek as I lurched away from him,” she described later in her testimony. “The first couple of milliseconds, I thought it must be a mistake. I moved to the side very quickly … He stuck it right up.”

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Taylor Swift. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Swift stayed firm in her testimony, saying she did not feel bad about Mueller losing 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.”

When Mueller’s attorney asked if she could be certain it was Mueller who groped him, she answered affirmatively.

“He had a handful of my arse. It happened to me. I know it was him,” Swift said. “I didn’t need a picture. I could have picked him out of a line of a thousand.”

Some of Swift’s answers in her testimony have been described as “snarky” by CNN. In one exchange, Mueller’s attorney showed Swift the photo taken with Mueller and asked why her skirt didn’t appear to be lifted.

“Because my arse is located in the back of my body,” Swift said.

Mueller’s attorney also noted that Melcher was closer to Swift than Mueller was. Swift brushed the comment aside.

“Yes, she did not have her hand on my arse,” Swift said.

Swift said that the only way to witness the actual groping would be to have a person underneath her.

“We didn’t have anyone positioned there,” she said.

Swift won the first case, over whether she wrongfully got Mueller fired.

The next day, the court handed Swift her first victory. The judge dismissed Mueller’s claim that Swift got him wrongfully fired.

“[There was] insufficient evidence Miss Taylor Swift acted improperly when she reported an assault she truly believed happened,” the judge, William J. Martínez, wrote in his ruling.

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Swift’s attorneys speak to media following the case. Theo Stroomer/Getty Images

But Martínez stopped short of ruling whether the assault did happen. Swift’s countersuit over the assault was still in play.

On Monday night, Swift won her countersuit.

Swift’s countersuit was a jury trial. And after four hours of deliberation, the jury ruled in Swift’s favour. Mueller is required to pay Swift $US1 in damages.

Swift released a statement that noted many other women wouldn’t be able to pursue the lawsuit in the same way she has. She said she would donate to organisations that would help sexual assault victims defend themselves:

“I want to thank Judge William J. Martinez and the jury for their careful consideration, my attorneys Doug Baldridge, Danielle Foley, Jay Schaudies and Katie Wright for fighting for me and anyone who feels silenced by a sexual assault, and especially anyone who offered their support throughout this four-year ordeal and two-year long trial process.

I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, in society and in my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this. My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard. Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organisations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.”

Mueller, though, maintains that he isn’t guilty.

“My heart is still set on proving my innocence,” Mueller told CNN. “I’m resolute.”

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