Judge rejects suit of ex-DJ accused of groping Swift

Taylor Swift alleges that David Mueller clutched her bare buttocks during a pre-concert fan reception in 2013. The DJ then sued her for defamation after he was fired by the radio station.
Taylor Swift alleges that David Mueller clutched her bare buttocks during a pre-concert fan reception in 2013. The DJ then sued her for defamation after he was fired by the radio station.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Case exceeded statute of limitations; jury to decide on singer's assault countersuit

DENVER • Pop star Taylor Swift has won an important ruling in the trial stemming from her allegation that she was groped by a Colorado disc jockey, with the judge dismissing the DJ's rival claim accusing the singer of wrongfully getting him fired.

The ruling by US District Judge William Martinez left intact Swift's assault and battery countersuit against David Mueller, who asserts he was falsely accused by the recording star and ousted from his US$150,000-a-year (S$204,000) job at radio station KYGO-FM under pressure from her.

The Grammy-winning artist embraced members of her legal team and family members in the courtroom following the decision.

Mueller sat alone at the plaintiff's table, appearing sombre as he sipped a glass of water.

The ruling capped the fifth day of a trial highlighted by vivid testimony from Swift charging that Mueller clutched her bare buttocks during a pre-concert fan reception in 2013.

The judge had tossed out Mueller's defamation-of-character claim against Swift before the trial, ruling that the former Denver DJ had waited too long to file suit under the statute of limitations.

Earlier on Friday, Swift's former bodyguard testified that he saw the radio personality slip his hand under the singer's skirt as they posed together for a photo with Mueller's then girlfriend.

STAR WITNESS

It was a definite grab. A very long grab.

POP STAR TAYLOR SWIFT, on the incident.

Lawyers for both sides rested their cases after the ex-girlfriend, Ms Shannon Melcher, took the stand as the final witness to deny seeing Mueller inappropriately touch Swift. But she added: "I don't have eyes in the back of my head."

Swift has said her representatives lodged a complaint with KYGO management about the alleged groping but insisted she never demanded that Mueller be fired.

Swift, known for baring her soul and her grudges in her music, by all accounts was the undisputed star witness of her own trial, giving an unflinching account of the incident in question last Thursday.

When Mueller's lawyer, Mr Gabriel McFarland, pointed out that Swift could have taken a break during the meet-and-greet if she was so upset about the alleged assault, she answered: "Your client could have taken a normal photo with me."

Mueller testified that he did nothing wrong and thought he might have touched her rib cage or ribs when he got in the photo at the last minute; he has also said it was his radio station boss who touched Swift.

"(Mueller) had a handful of my ass. I know it was him," Swift said.

"It was a definite grab. A very long grab," she added.

The jury will return tomorrow to consider Mueller's claims that Swift's mother, Andrea, and manager Frank Bell - who reported his alleged behaviour - got him fired.

The eight-member jury also will decide whether Mueller is liable for assault and battery, for which Swift is seeking a symbolic US$1 in damages.

REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 13, 2017, with the headline 'Judge rejects suit of ex-DJ accused of groping Swift'. Print Edition | Subscribe