Taylor Swift Groping Trial Opens With Denials, Claims of Destroyed Evidence
A Colorado radio DJ testified under oath that he did not grope Taylor Swift at a 2013 meet-and-greet while the pop star’s legal team countered his story as the trial began in Denver Tuesday, Buzzfeed reports. Swift accused the DJ, David “Jackson” Mueller, of reaching under her skirt at a backstage photo-op and grabbing her butt.
Mueller sued Swift in 2015 for $3 million, claiming the accusations were false and cost him his job. A month later, Swift countersued Mueller for assault and battery.
Swift – who is expected to testify in the coming days – sat in the Denver courtroom Tuesday while Mueller told his side of the story. According to Mueller, Swift offered to take a photograph with him and his girlfriend. He said the pop star put his arm around his girlfriend while they turned towards the photographer and then he moved to join the shot with his arm outstretched, hand closed and palm facing down.
“My hand came into contact with part of her body,” Mueller said. “I felt what appeared to be a ribcage or rib.”
After Mueller left, Swift reported the alleged groping to her security team, who found Mueller, kicked him out of the venue and informed his managers. The next day, Mueller said he was called into a meeting at the radio station, KYGO, during which two higher-ups accused him of groping Swift. Several days later, he was fired.
During his testimony, Mueller not only denied the accusations, but said his boss, KYGO Program Director Eddie Haskell, was the one who supposedly touched Swift. Mueller said that after he left the VIP room – but before he was ejected from the venue – he ran into Haskell, who allegedly said that he put his hand on Swift’s butt. Mueller also claimed that Haskell said he’d been discussing with a friend earlier whether Swift wore bike shorts under her dress. “I thought he was just telling one of his stories,” Mueller said.
Swift’s attorneys attempted to poke holes in Mueller’s credibility throughout the day. They claimed the DJ had changed his story multiple times and also destroyed “every bit of computer evidence” related to his firing from KYGO. Mueller acknowledged that he had recorded his meeting with the KYGO higher-ups the day after the alleged groping, though he said the audio file was destroyed when he accidentally spilled coffee on his laptop. A back-up was lost later when Mueller said his external hard drive “stopped working.”
“He destroyed the evidence,” Swift’s attorney, Douglas Baldridge, said. “The alibi that the other guy [Haskell] did it didn’t come up till two years later.”
During opening statements, both Swift and Mueller’s legal team discussed the primary piece of physical evidence in the trial: A photograph of the photo-op obtained by TMZ and sealed by the court. In the picture, Mueller stands next to Swift with his hand behind her and below her waist.
Swift’s attorneys said the photo was “damning” proof, but Mueller’s lawyer, Gabriel McFarland, argued the photo showed that Mueller’s hand wasn’t underneath the pop star’s skirt and that her skirt wasn’t “rumpled in any fashion.”
McFarland also accused Swift of making a false accusation against Mueller, telling the court, “I don’t know what kind of person would do that. There were 10 people in the room and not one of them said they saw anything.”
Swift’s attorney, Baldridge, countered, asking, “What possible motivation would Taylor Swift have to make up a story?” Swift has said she hopes the case will serve “as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.”
“What is at stake is, will this man be able to stifle a young woman’s ability to report a sexual assault?” Baldridge said at trial. “If this person cannot stand up and serve as an example to other young women who have been sexually assaulted, then who can?”