Taylor Swift wants case to serve as example to other victims

Taylor Swift. (Paolo Villanueva/Flickr)

By James Anderson and Tatiana Flowers, Associated Press

Taylor Swift’s attorneys told jurors they aren’t trying to bankrupt a former Colorado DJ accused of groping the pop superstar before a concert, but they do want others to know “that you can always say no.”

Swift’s attorney, Douglas Baldridge, attacked the credibility of former Denver DJ David Mueller on Tuesday, asking jurors, “What’s wrong with this picture? A woman gets assaulted, a woman reports it, and she gets sued.”

Wednesday’s testimony was delayed while the judge held a closed hearing with both sides to discuss unspecified evidence. Jurors, spectators and the news media were told to leave the courtroom.

Mueller sued Swift after her team told his bosses at a country music station that he had reached under her dress and touched her backside during a meet-and-greet before a 2013 concert in Denver. He is seeking at least $3 million, saying the allegation cost him his job and reputation.

Swift countersued Mueller, claiming sexual assault. She is seeking a symbolic $1, saying she wants to serve as an example to other women who have been assaulted.

As Swift’s attorneys tried to take the higher ground in the he-said she said case, Mueller’s attorneys tried to paint their client as someone who just wants to clear his name and recover his lost earnings.

“Let’s be clear about something from the onset — inappropriate touching is offensive, it’s wrong and should never be tolerated,” Mueller’s attorney, Gabriel McFarland told jurors. “Let’s also be clear that falsely accusing someone of inappropriate touching is equally offensive, it’s wrong and should not be tolerated.”

Mueller testified Tuesday that he may have touched the pop superstar’s ribs with a closed hand as he tried to jump into a photo with her but insisted he did not touch her backside as she claims.

The 2013 photo of Swift, Mueller and Mueller’s girlfriend taken at the pre-concert event in Denver is a key piece of evidence in Mueller’s suit claiming he was fired after being falsely accused by Swift. He is seeking at least $3 million.

The photo shows Mueller with his hand behind Swift, just below her waist. Both are smiling.

Her lawyers have called the photo “damning” proof that Mueller groped her.

Mueller’s lawyer, Gabriel McFarland, showed jurors the photograph during his opening remarks. Two jurors stared at the photo on their computer monitors while a few others kept glancing at it as McFarland spoke.

“If you look at that photograph, his hand is not underneath Miss Swift’s skirt, and her skirt is not rumpled in any fashion,” McFarland said, noting that no one on Swift’s concert team saw anything amiss.

Mueller also testified that one of his station bosses, Hershel Coomer, told him that he had met Swift earlier before the show and that “he told me that he had his hands on her butt.”

Mueller said, “I thought he was just telling me one of his stories.”

Under cross-examination, Mueller couldn’t explain why he didn’t tell a boss investigating the incident about the exchange with Coomer.

Swift has said she is positive it was Mueller who groped her.

Swift has countersued Mueller, claiming sexual assault. She is seeking a symbolic $1, saying she wants to serve as an example to other women who have been assaulted.

Proceedings ended for the day Tuesday and were set to resume Wednesday.

In his opening statement, Douglas Baldridge, an attorney for Swift, told jurors that his superstar client is “absolutely certain” she was sexually assaulted and will prove it in court.

Baldridge also asked what possible reason Swift would have to make up an allegation.

“That’s the one and only story we have to tell you — that Mr. Mueller grabbed her rear end,” he said.

Mueller’s attorney told jurors that inappropriate touching is wrong, but falsely accusing someone of the offense is equally unacceptable.

Mueller, wearing a smoke gray jacket and a white shirt, sat in court with his back to Swift and her mother, Andrea Swift.

Taylor Swift had her hair in a bun and wore a conservative black dress with tights. She is expected to testify later in the trial.

Mueller testified that he wants to clear his name and recover earnings he lost after being fired. He said he hasn’t been able to get a job in radio since the incident.

“It’s a humiliating experience to be accused of something that despicable,” he testified.

Baldridge repeatedly interrupted Mueller during an aggressive cross-examination and noted that Mueller has said he lost an audio recording of a meeting he had with his bosses before they fired him.

“We’ll never know what’s on it, will we?” Baldridge asked.

“No, we won’t,” Mueller responded. “They’re gone.”

Baldridge repeatedly asked Mueller if he could grasp “any reason, incentive or motive for Miss Swift” to make up the allegation or be involved in 2 years of litigation.

“I cannot,” Mueller replied.

Baldridge did get Mueller to concede that various supervisors with KYGO and its parent firm had discussed the possibility of letting him go even before the encounter with Swift.