Judge throws out DJ's case against Taylor Swift in groping trial
James Anderson and Tatiana Flowers, The Associated Press
Published Friday, August 11, 2017 7:20AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 11, 2017 8:14PM EDT
A judge has thrown out a Denver DJ's case against Taylor Swift just before jurors hear closing arguments in dueling lawsuits over whether the radio host groped her during a photo op and whether she and her team got him fired for it.
U.S. District Judge William Martinez determined Friday that the pop star could not be held liable because David Mueller hadn't shown that she personally set out to have him fired after the backstage meet-and-greet in 2013. Mueller's identical allegations against Swift's mother and her radio liaison will go to the jury.
Mueller sued the Swifts and their radio handler, Frank Bell, seeking up to $3 million as compensation for his ruined career.
The singer-songwriter said in her countersuit that she wanted a symbolic $1 and the chance to stand up for other women.
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DENVER -- The judge in the groping trial between Taylor Swift and a former radio host sent jurors home Friday as he weighed whether to dismiss the DJ's claims that the singer ruined his career.
U.S. District Judge William Martinez was considering Swift's lawyer's argument that David Mueller had failed to prove the pop star got him fired and promised a ruling late Friday.
Mueller denies groping Swift during a 2013 meet-and-greet and is suing Swift, her mother and her radio liaison for up to $3 million. Swift is countersuing for a symbolic $1 and what she says is a chance to stand up for other women.
With jurors outside the courtroom Friday afternoon, attorneys on both sides argued over whether Mueller had presented enough evidence to send his full case to the jury. Those statements and the judge's questions focused on whether Swift herself had done anything to get Mueller fired.
That left open the possibility that the judge would throw out the claims against her but let Mueller press ahead with his allegations against her mother, Andrea Swift, and Frank Bell, their point man with radio stations. Swift's lawsuit alleging assault and battery by Mueller was not discussed.
Jurors are to return Monday to hear closing arguments about whichever claims remain.
Earlier Friday, Swift's former bodyguard testified that he saw Mueller reach under her skirt a moment before a photographer snapped their picture during the pre-concert meet-and-greet at Denver's Pepsi Center.
Security guard Greg Dent, who no longer works for Swift, said he was standing a few steps away but did not intervene because he generally took his cues from the pop star, and she gave him no signals during the 2013 pre-concert encounter at a Denver arena.
Seated at her legal team's table in a federal courtroom, Swift chuckled when Dent testified that, after the photo was taken, he suspected that Mueller would be at the bar of the arena -- and another guard found him there.
A day earlier, Swift spent an hour on the witness stand herself defiantly recounting what she called a "despicable and horrifying and shocking" encounter.
"He stayed attached to my bare ass-cheek as I lurched away from him," Swift testified.
"It was a definite grab. A very long grab," she added in her testimony.
Swift's testy exchange with Mueller's attorney occasionally elicited chuckles -- even from the six-woman, two-man jury. She got a laugh when she said Dent saw Mueller "lift my skirt" but someone would have had to have been underneath her to see the actual groping -- "and we didn't have anyone positioned there."
Swift testified that after the photo was taken, she tried to get as far away Mueller as she could. She said she told him and his girlfriend, who was also in the photo, "thank you for coming" in a monotone voice before they left.
She also said she was stunned and did not say anything to Mueller or halt the event after he left because she did not want to disappoint several dozen people waiting in line for photos with her.
In the image, shown to jurors during opening statements but not publicly released, Mueller's hand is behind Swift, just below her waist. Mueller's then-girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, is on the other side of Swift. All three are smiling.
Melcher testified Friday that she saw nothing happen during the brief encounter and that she and Mueller were rudely confronted and escorted out of the arena that evening.
Melcher testified Mueller was devastated by the accusation.
She said she and Mueller started out as co-workers at country station KYGO-FM and became romantically involved in February 2013, a few months before the concert. They drifted apart late in 2013, but Melcher says they remained friends.