UPDATE, AUGUST 14, 2017: After a six-day trial, Taylor Swift’s sexual assault case against former radio DJ David Mueller came to an end Monday evening with the jury unanimously ruling in favor of the pop star. She was awarded $1 in damages, which, as her attorney Douglas Baldrige noted, was meant to serve as a symbolic gesture.
“It means no means no, and it tells every woman that they will determine what is tolerable to their body,” he said.
In a statement released Monday night, Swift thanked the jury and presiding Judge William Martinez for their decision and pledged to donate to organizations that help victims of sexual assault:
“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 organizations that help sexual assault victims
This post was originally published on August 9, 2017.
Taylor Swift appeared before a Denver court Thursday morning to testify in her sexual assault trial against David Mueller—a former DJ and radio personality—and as her pointed statements made clear, the pop star was completely unflappable in her account of what happened when they met in June of 2013. To get you up to speed, Swift has alleged that Mueller reached under her skirt and grabbed her backside as they posed together for a preshow meet and greet photograph during the Denver stop of her Red Tour. Mueller took legal action in 2015, claiming that Swift’s allegations were false and had cost him his job with the Colorado-based radio station where he worked. Swift countersued shortly thereafter, accusing Mueller of sexual assault and battery.
Though Mueller is seeking $3 million in damages, Swift is asking for just $1. As her attorney J. Douglas Baldrige said in his opening statement, the suit isn’t about bankrupting Mueller—it’s about proving a point.
“She’s just trying to tell people out there that you can say no when someone puts their hand on you,” Baldridge said. “Grabbing a woman’s rear end is an assault, and it’s always wrong. Any woman—rich, poor, famous, or not—is entitled to have that not happen.”
And if Swift is awarded additional damages, she plans to donate the money to causes “dedicated to protecting women from similar acts of sexual assault and personal disregard” (per CNN).
As the trial continues to move forward—it was scheduled to last nine days and is expected to conclude on August 24—here’s a rundown of everything that’s gone on so far.
During the June 2, 2013, stop on Swift’s Red Tour, Mueller and his then-girlfriend met Swift during a meet and greet hosted in Denver’s Pepsi Center arena and they posed together for a photograph. At the time, Mueller was a host for the 98.5 KYGO-FM morning show.
“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 ass cheek, and no matter how much I scooted over, it was still there,” Swift said in her 2016 deposition. “It was not an accident, it was completely intentional, and I have never been so sure of anything in my life.”
After the alleged incident, Swift told both her mother and her management team—including radio promotions manager Frank Bell—what had happened. Swift’s security team then approached Mueller, accused him of inappropriately touching the singer, and asked him to leave the arena. He was also barred from attending any of Swift’s future concerts.
Swift’s team informed KYGO-FM of what had happened and Mueller was fired several days later for violating a “morality clause,” according to Billboard. Swift, however, did not specifically request that Mueller be fired.
In September 2015, Mueller filed a suit against Swift, her mother, and Bell, saying that the allegations caused him to lose his job and miss out on other business ventures. According to Mueller, Swift’s accusations are untrue and she made them up in effort to get him fired from his job. As part of the suit, Mueller asked for $3 million in damages to make up for lost earnings and opportunities.
Swift filed a countersuit in October 2015, accusing the former morning show host of assault and battery and asking for a jury trial. She requested just $1 in damages.
Mueller and Swift’s lawsuits were then combined to be part of the Denver-based trial, which began on Monday.
Before the 2017 trial began, Swift won a major victory because Mueller had mishandled a key piece of evidence. Mueller was sanctioned by U.S. District Judge William Martinez for destroying audio recordings of a conversation with his former KYGO-FM boss Robert Call on the day he was fired. Call said that as they talked, Mueller was inconsistent with his details about what had happened during the Red Tour meet and greet—and his change in story was part of the reason why he was fired. Mueller had sent parts of the tape to his attorneys to back up his claims, but he ultimately destroyed or disposed of the multiple devices the conversation was stored on.
“It is very hard to understand how he spent so little time and effort to preserve the very evidence which—one might think—could have helped him to prove his claims, and why he evidently responded with nonchalance when that evidence was lost,” Martinez said.
Because of Mueller’s actions, attorneys will be permitted to ask him questions about the contents of the tape and the jury can factor Mueller’s destruction of evidence into their final decision.
The photo that was taken during the June 2013 meet and greet has been a crux of both sides’ arguments, and the image, which was obtained by TMZ, shows Mueller standing alongside Swift with his right hand behind her back and below her waist.
Swift’s lawyers have said the photo is “damning” proof that Mueller did inappropriately touch her. But in his opening statement, Mueller’s attorney refuted this, saying, ““If you look at that photograph, his hand is not underneath Miss Swift’s skirt, and her skirt is not rumpled in any fashion.”
Mueller testified on Tuesday and said that he might have touched Swift’s “rib cage, or rib, or ribs,” but did not grab her backside. He said that the accusations were “humiliating,” but conceded that he could not come up with “any reason, incentive, or motive” as to why Swift would make up such a claim. Mueller also stated that Swift had been groped, but said that it was one of his former KYGO-FM bosses who had been the one to inappropriately touch the singer and had bragged to Mueller about doing so (a claim that Mueller had also made in an earlier court document).
On Wednesday, Swift’s mother Andrea took the stand and gave an emotional testimony describing the alleged incident. As Andrea told the court, her daughter came up to her on that night in June of 2013 and told her that “some guy from the radio station” had “just grabbed [her] ass in the meet-and-greet.”
“She couldn’t believe that after he grabbed her, that she thanked them for being there,” Swift’s mother said, breaking down in tears. “It was just destroying her that she said that…. As a parent it made me question why I taught her to be so polite in that moment.”
Also testifying on Wednesday was Frank Bell, a man the Associated Press described as Swift’s radio liaison, who stated that he did not request that KYGO terminate Mueller’s employment—he only asked that “appropriate action be taken” after he informed them of what happened at Swift’s Denver concert.
Swift herself appeared before the court on Thursday morning and pulled no punches when describing the events of the alleged assault, even as Mueller’s attorney Gabe MacFarland attempted to trip her up.
“It happened to me. He had a handful of my ass. It happened to me. I know it was him,” Swift told the court. “I didn’t need a picture. I could have picked him out of a line of a thousand…this is not alleged. I don’t need you to grill me about the tiny details of this photograph.”
“You can ask me a million questions about it, and I’m never going to say something different,” she added. “I never have said anything different.
On Friday, Swift’s former bodyguard Greg Dent took the stand and gave his account of the alleged 2013 incident saying he had seen Mueller’s hand under Swift’s skirt.
“I did not see his hand touch her physically; I saw his hand under her skirt,” he said. “She reacted, pushed her skirt down and moved over closer to [Mueller’s girlfriend]. So in my opinion, I knew he touched her.”
On Friday evening, Judge Martinez threw out Mueller’s case against Swift, ruling that the former KYGO DJ could not successfully prove that the pop star was the direct cause of his terminated employment. However, Mueller’s case against Swift’s mother Andrea and radio liaison Frank Bell can still continue forward—albeit in a limited scope—and Swift’s countersuit against Mueller has not been dismissed. In short: This means the trial will still continue forward and closing arguments are scheduled to take place on Monday.
This post has been updated throughout.
For more related to the trial, follow our ongoing coverage here:
–Taylor Swift Has Officially Won Her Sexual Assault Trial—See Her Powerful Statement
–Taylor Swift Ended the Sixth Day of Her Sexual Assault Trial in Tears
–Taylor Swift Testifies in Her Sexual Assault Trial: ‘He Had a Handful of My Ass’
–Taylor Swift’s 10 Most Powerful Statements From Her Sexual Assault Trial Cross-Examination
–Taylor Swift’s Mom Says She Wanted to ‘Vomit and Cry’ After Hearing About Her Daughter’s Alleged Sexual Assault
–Judge Throws Out Former DJ David Mueller’s Case Against Taylor Swift