DENVER (CN) — “It was a definite grab, a very long grab,” Taylor Swift testified Thursday at the trial of a former DJ she accuses of groping her before a concert. “It was long enough for me to be completely sure it was intentional.”
Under direct examination by David Mueller’s attorney Gabriel McFarland, Swift called the incident “horrifying, shocking.” She said Mueller groped her butt under her skirt during a photo op before a June 2013 concert at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Mueller sued Swift for defamation and interference with contract after her team complained to his employer, KYGO radio, which fired him. Swift countersued for assault and battery. The trial of both civil cases began this week before a jury of six women and two men in Denver County Court.
Swift says Mueller groped her as they stood together for a photo. That photo, which was studied meticulously in court this week, shows Swift standing with a large gap between herself and Mueller. Swift and Mueller’s girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, stand close enough that their arms and hands cannot be seen.
Swift testified Thursday that she “lurched” away from Mueller as the photo was taken.
“The first couple of milliseconds, I thought it must be a mistake,” she said.
“It was a very shocking thing that I have never dealt with before. He grabbed my ass underneath my skirt.”
Mueller claims he touched Swift’s ribs while awkwardly posing for the photo — an explanation Swift categorically rejected, saying his groping was “intentional.”
She said that when it happened, a “light switched off in my personality.”
“I couldn’t look at either one of them. I just said in a monotone, ‘Thank you for coming.’”
When all the fans in line at the meet and greet were gone, Swift testified, she told the members of her team in the room: “That dude just grabbed my ass.”
Her photographer replied: “I know exactly which one you’re talking about,” Swift said.
Attorney McFarland asked Swift if she was disappointed in her security guard, Greg Dent, who had not reacted or stopped the encounter.
Swift replied: “I’m critical of your client sticking his hand under my skirt and grabbing my ass. “It was horrifying, shocking.”
Mueller testified this week that the photo had been “awkward,” and that he had to “slide in” at the last minute to get into a pose.
Swift said she didn’t buy it.
“We got into photo formation. It’s really easy. You just stand there,” she said.
She rejected Mueller’s testimony that there had been “jostling” to get ready for the photo.
“This was not jostling. There was no diving into the picture. We were perfectly in place. … This was not an action shot.”
Mueller has demanded $3 million from Swift, claiming his firing from KYGO cost him that much in lost wages, earning capacity and damage to his reputation.
Swift rejected that. Losing his job, she said, was “a product of his decisions, not mine.”
“I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel like this is my fault,” she told McFarland.
“I don’t know anything about Mr. Mueller. I don’t know him.”
McFarland asked Swift if she could be sure it had not been Mueller’s KYGO boss, Eddie Haskell, who grabbed her bottom. Mueller testified this week that Haskell had told him that he had groped Swift’s butt.
Swift said she was sure.
“[Mueller] had a handful of my ass,” Swift said. “It happened to me. I know it was him. I don’t need a picture.
“This is not alleged,” Swift said, appearing to grow impatient with McFarland’s questioning. “I don’t need you to grill me about the tiny details of this photograph.”
Mueller asked Swift why her skirt wasn’t ruffled in the picture.
“Because my ass is located on the back of my body,” she replied.
Swift’s attorney J. Douglas Baldridge did not cross-examine the pop star.
McFarland asked for the deposition of a former personal assistant of Swift’s, Gabby Liddicoat, to be read after Swift stepped off the stand. Liddicoat said in the deposition that Swift appeared to be “uncomfortable” after Mueller left, and was “visibly upset.”
After a morning break, McFarland called Robert Call, vice president marketing manager of Lincoln Financial Media, which formerly owned KYGO, to the stand.
McFarland asked if he’d made the decision to fire Mueller.
“Yes I did,” Call said. “In our opinion, he had violated section 16, paragraph B of our contract and created an embarrassing situation for our company, our clients.”
McFarland asked what it was about the photograph that made Call decide to fire Mueller.
“The photograph appears to have Taylor move very closely to Shannon Melcher; there’s a gap between Mueller and Taylor,” Call said. “And in that gap, his hand is in my mind without question behind her rear end.”
Call discussed his friendship with Frank Bell, Swift’s bodyguard at the time. He said that his communications with Bell played an important part in his decision to fire Mueller.
“I’ve known Frank for the long time in the industry. It’s a relatively close business. … In later years [he] worked with a former employee of mine who considered him of the highest professionalism.”
McFarland asked Call to describe his meeting with Mueller the day after the concert to discuss the incident.
“He said that it didn’t happen. We went through a series of seemingly asking each other questions. He would ask me, ‘Why would I do this?’
“‘I can’t answer that. Why would Taylor make such a claim?’
“‘Then he’d respond, ‘Well, if she’d known I was with KYGO, this never would have happened.’”
McFarland asked Call if the radio station had been planning to fire Mueller before the June 2 incident. Call said there had been no concrete plans to fire him, but his morning show hadn’t been performing well, and KYGO had been auditioning a third person to join the morning show to try to improve the ratings.
Call said the show’s ratings had gone down after Mueller and his co-host, Ryan Kliesch, had been brought on, and improved when Mueller left.
McFarland asked Call to explain Bell’s words of warning to him after the incident with Swift, in which Bell allegedly told Call that KYGO’s relationship with Swift “could be gravely impacted” if nothing was done.
“Country radio and country music have a relationship that’s like no other. … I understand Frank’s comments to mean simply that that bond, that relationship might well be broken,” Call said.
One of Swift’s three female attorneys cross-examined Call, asking if the morning show’s ratings had been better before Mueller was hired and after he was fired. Call answered “yes” to both.
On redirect, McFarland asked Call about his questioning of Mueller.
“You indicated that you did ask yourself, ‘Why would Taylor Swift make this up?’ … Did you ask yourself why Mr. Mueller would do something like this?”
“I didn’t ask myself that question,” Call said. “He asked me that question.”
“Did you think about it?”
“Not very long,” Call said.