Jury Deciding Taylor Swift’s Groping Claim Against DJ

DENVER (CN) – Taylor Swift’s attorney and the attorney for the disc jockey Swift accuses of groping her made their final statements to the eight-member jury on Monday morning.

U.S. District Judge William Martinez dismissed disc jockey David Mueller’s claims of tortious contractual interference against Taylor Swift on Friday night, finding his attorneys had not made the case that the singer had done anything to get him fired.

The jury will decide Mueller’s claims against Swift’s mother, Andrea Swift, and her radio programming manager, Frank Bell, that he lost a $300,000 employment contract as an on-air host with KYGO after Swift’s team accused him of groping her while taking a meet-and-greet photo before her 2013 Pepsi Center performance.

Swift counterclaimed for sexual assault and battery five months after Mueller’s filed his lawsuit. The singer seeks $1 in nominal damages.

Mueller’s attorney, Gabriel McFarland of Golden, Colorado, delivered closing arguments on Monday morning, addressing a photograph of Swift and Mueller at the event.

“Ms. Swift took the position that this photograph is proof,” McFarland said. “Each of you is ultimately going to have to determine what you see in this photograph and what it shows, but I submit to you that there’s no way in this picture that Mr. Mueller’s hand is under Ms. Swift’s skirt.”

McFarland told jurors Swift’s skirt was “not disturbed” in the photo.

“The line of her skirt is straight. It’s not bent, or ruffled the side or in front,” he said. “You can see a front hemline at the skirt, and you can see just a little of the back hemline – and that’s especially true if, what Swift and her mother testified, this is a lampshade-like material.

“If this is a stiff material, when the front moves, then the back moves. It’s impossible that Mr. Mueller has his hand under her skirt.”

McFarland then turned the jury’s attention to Taylor Swift’s face in the photo.

“Look at Ms. Swift’s face and ask yourself, ‘Is that the face of someone who just had a strange man grab their butt?’” McFarland asked. “Is that the face of someone who’s in shock, who’s upset? That’s the face of someone who is taking a nice photograph. That’s the face of someone who’s participating in a meet-and-greet.”

McFarland went through the witnesses that testified over the four days of the trial.

“Mr. Mueller steadfastly, consistently denies that he put his hand under Ms. Swift’s skirt,” he said. “Erica Warden, Ms. Swift’s tour manager, said that she might have seen something, but she did not see Mr. Mueller’s hand under Ms. Swift’s skirt or any inappropriate touching. She also didn’t describe Mr. Mueller squatting down to get under Ms. Swift’s skirt.”

And Swift’s photographer, Stephanie Simbeck, was the “least credible witness that we heard from,” McFarland said.

“She started it all by incorrectly fingering Mr. Mueller; her testimony makes no sense whatsoever,” McFarland said. “She says, ‘I saw something and I thought maybe Ms. Swift tripped over her heels.’ Then she indicated that she saw Mr. Mueller grab Ms. Swift’s rear. Then in response to the question ‘Is Mr. Mueller’s hand outside or inside Ms. Swift’s clothing,’ she’s a deer in the headlights. She can’t answer that question. Of course she has no idea. She was standing directly in front. She was taking the picture.

“As Ms. Swift told me during her testimony, her rear is on the back of her body, not the front of her body,” McFarland said, quoting one of Swift’s well-publicized quotes from her Thursday testimony. “So there’s no way that Stephanie Simbeck saw any inappropriate touching. I cut [Simbeck] a little bit of slack because she still works for Ms. Swift and I assume she wants to remain in that position.”

McFarland moved on to the testimony of Mueller’s ex-girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, who had been in the photo with Swift. Melcher was “the most credible of the witnesses we heard from,” the attorney said.

“[Melcher’s] got no reason to lie,” McFarland said. “She dated Mr. Mueller several years ago, they broke up years ago. And she says she didn’t see any inappropriate touching. Moreover, she testified again that during the taking of the photograph she didn’t feel Ms. Swift lurch toward her or move quickly.”

McFarland told the jury that “the only conclusion you can draw” was that the rear grab never happened.

“Why would Ms. Swift lie?” McFarland asked. “I don’t know. Why would she come into this court and look at you guys and say the photograph is proof? I’m sure she thinks it’s true, but the photograph shows otherwise.”

He added, “If you determine that Ms. Swift’s allegations of inappropriately touching her are false, Ms. Andrea Swift and Mr. Bell are liable to the plaintiff for intentionally interfering with his employment contract with Lincoln Financial and KYGO.”

Court proceedings broke for a 20-minute morning recess before Swift’s attorney, J. Douglas Baldridge, addressed the jurors.

“Aug. 10, 2017, at approximately 10a.m., you heard these words out of the mouth of Taylor Swift: ‘I am not going to allow you, Mr. McFarland, or your client to make me feel like this is in any way my fault,’” Baldridge said. “Isn’t that really the issue before you? The issue that confronts every woman, wife, mother, daughter, somewhere somehow, every day of their life. Will aggressors like David Mueller be allowed to victimize their victims? Will they be allowed to shame them, humiliate them, assault them?

He added, “And to use the words of Andrea Swift, ‘I don’t know whether to vomit or cry,’ when I hear a fellow member of the bar join in that victimization that you just heard. Will aggressors be allowed to sue their victims in a game of chicken? Will aggressors like David Mueller be allowed to realize a payday for their own wrongful conduct just because they know they can get away with it, because people walk away?”

He urged the jury to answer those questions with a “no.”

“You will say so by returning a verdict on Ms. Swift’s counterclaim for a single dollar – a single symbolic dollar, the value of which is immeasurable to all women in this situation,” Baldridge said. “And by doing so you won’t join Mr. Mueller and his counsel in victimizing the victim, and you will tell every woman, rich or poor, famous or not, that no means no – you will embrace the lines between what will and will not be tolerated where a woman’s body is concerned.”

Baldridge said Mueller “closed the case against himself” on Aug. 8, when he said under oath that Swift had the right to tell his employer if she truly believed he had grabbed her.

“He was forced to admit under cross-examination the following: ‘If Ms. Swift believed I touched her on her rear end without her permission, my employer KYGO had a right to know.’ It’s undisputed that she had an honest and undisputed belief. He said it. So KYGO had a right to know,” Baldridge told jurors. “The case was over when he did that.”

Baldridge also disputed McFarland’s arguments of inconsistencies in the testimony of Swift’s team.

“Apparently, because no one was laying on the ground behind Ms. Swift and able to look right up and see what was going on, the issue is inconsistency,” Baldridge said. “Everything is consistent, whether it was the reaction on her face, the movement of her skirt, the pulling away in the photo. People told you what they saw. And it was all consistent.”

Baldridge called Mueller’s lawsuit “a completely made-up story to stick it to his boss two years after the fact.”

Swift’s attorney, who, had been unable to get a clear answer from Mueller as to how much money he was seeking during his cross-examination last week, told the jury that Mueller’s response to the question was only further testament to his guilt.

“In the most twisted of circumstances, Mr. Mueller is seeking millions of dollars in damages,” Baldridge said. “Was he seeking millions? He was until he got on the stand. And on cross-examination, to say there was nothing his [damages] expert [Jeffrey Opp] put forward in front of him, he blamed it on his lawyer. ‘Well I didn’t really like Opp.’

“That’s a man that can’t take responsibility. It was probably his judgment at that time that you might be offended, as I was offended, that somebody would try to make a multimillion-dollar payday of off this,” Baldridge added, calling Mueller’s claims were “open shut, case over.”

In his rebuttal, Mueller’s attorney reminded jurors that Mueller had loved his job with KYGO, and that he wouldn’t have wanted to jeopardize it.

“Mr. Mueller lost his dream job because Andrea Swift or Frank Bell decided he had to be fired. They didn’t bother to do a fair, reasonable investigation,” McFarland said. “I have a 13-year-old daughter. I don’t disagree that the law should encourage reporting sexual assault. But the law should also discourage the reckless reporting of sexual assault. People lose their jobs, their livelihoods.”

The jury began deliberating at 12:30 p.m. Andrea Swift and Frank Bell face two claims of tortious interference with Mueller’s employment contract. Mueller faces claims of sexual assault and battery filed by Taylor Swift.

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