Taylor Swift attends groping trial

Superstar Taylor Swift says she was groped by DJ David Mueller in 2013.
Superstar Taylor Swift says she was groped by DJ David Mueller in 2013.PHOTO: REUTERS

DENVER • On this the radio host and the superstar agree: David Mueller took his girlfriend and co-worker along to meet Taylor Swift shortly before a concert in Denver on June 2, 2013. They chatted and posed for a photograph.

From there their versions differ starkly. Now, a United States federal jury will decide whether, as Swift says, Mueller groped her while the picture was being taken, or whether, as he says, she falsely accused him, leading radio station Kygo to fire him from a US$150,000 (S$204,000)-a-year job hosting a morning show.

After he filed his lawsuit in 2015, she countersued, accusing him of assault and battery.

Swift, 27, is scheduled to testify during the proceedings and was in the courtroom on Monday, listening intently in a dark jacket and white dress, as Judge William J. Martinez and lawyers from both sides questioned potential jurors for four hours.

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Many of the 60 potential jurors being considered for the eight-member panel said they had read or heard about the case. All were asked to fill out a 15-page questionnaire that asked, among other things, whether they have been inappropriately touched, falsely accused or considered themselves fans of the entertainer.

No jurors have been selected yet, though many were dismissed for a variety of reasons, including one who said on her questionnaire that she found Swift "petty and dishonest".

It is not clear when during the trial, expected to last nine days, Swift might testify.

But her pre-trial deposition provided a preview of her testimony about the events at Pepsi Center, the arena in Denver not far from the courthouse.

She described getting in "photo formation" between Mueller and his girlfriend, which was when "he took his hand and put it up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek, and no matter how much I scooted over it was still there. It was not an accident, it was completely intentional, and I have never been so sure of anything in my life".

Mueller, 55, is just as adamant.

According to the suit his lawyers filed, "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 security personnel, during a company-sponsored, VIP backstage meet-andgreet is nonsense".

His suit names Swift; her mother Andrea, who was in town for the concert; and Mr Frank Bell, who handled radio relations for Swift. Mr Bell is accused of pressuring Kygo, at Andrea's behest, to take action against Mueller.

In court papers, Swift anticipates a question that women often face when they make accusations of sexual assault: Why did she not protest at the time?

She described being too "surprised, upset, offended and alarmed" and noted that Mueller was an intimidating 1.9m and 90.7kg.

As soon as Mueller and his companion Shannon Melcher left, Swift said she told her tour manager and security staff that she had been groped. Members of her staff tracked down the pair in Pepsi Center and escorted them out. Swift's team contacted Kygo officials to describe her allegations. Mueller was fired two days later.

Ms Melcher said in a deposition that she noticed nothing unusual during the Pepsi Center meeting.

Mueller has indicated that if he had touched Swift in a way she found inappropriate, it was inadvertent as he rushed to get into position for the photograph, which, though inconclusive, is expected to be key evidence at the trial.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2017, with the headline 'Taylor Swift attends groping trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe