Wednesday 21 March 2018

Swift pledges to help victims of sexual assault as jury decides DJ groped star

In keeping with Taylor Swift’s request, the jurors awarded her $1. Picture: Reuters
In keeping with Taylor Swift’s request, the jurors awarded her $1. Picture: Reuters

Dean Grey

Immediately after a jury determined that Taylor Swift was groped by a radio station host at a backstage 2013 concert event in Denver, the singer-songwriter embraced one of her closest allies - her mother - and later said she hoped the verdict would inspire other victims of sexual assault.

Swift hugged her crying mother after the six-woman, two-man jury decided on Monday in a US District Court that former Denver DJ David Mueller grabbed the pop star's bottom during a photo session four years ago.

In keeping with Swift's request, the jurors awarded her $1 (85c) in damages - an amount her attorney Douglas Baldridge called "a single symbolic dollar, the value of which is immeasurable to all women in this situation".

Swift issued a statement thanking her attorneys "for fighting for me and anyone who feels silenced by a sexual assault".

"My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard," she said, promising to make unspecified donations to groups that help sexual assault victims.

Swift's mother Andrea Swift tried to keep the accusation quiet by not reporting the incident to police. Instead, the singer's management team alerted Mueller's bosses.

But it became public when Mueller sued Swift for up to $3m (€2.5m), claiming her allegation cost him his $150,000-a-year (€127,000) job at country station KYGO-FM, where he was a morning host.

"I've been trying to clear my name for four years," Mueller told reporters after. "Civil court is the only option I had. This is the only way that I could be heard."

Appearing on ABC's 'Good Morning America', Mueller yesterday said he might appeal and insisted he did nothing wrong. "I can pass a polygraph," he said.

After Mueller sued, Swift countersued for assault and battery.

While Mueller testified he never grabbed Swift, she insisted she was groped.

"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."

Mueller emphatically denied reaching under the pop star's skirt or otherwise touching her inappropriately, testifying he touched her ribs and that his hand may have brushed the outside of her skirt as they awkwardly posed for the picture before Swift's performance.

That photo was virtually the only evidence besides the testimony.

In the image shown to jurors but not publicly released, Mueller's hand is behind Swift, just below her waist. Both are smiling. Mueller's then-girlfriend is standing on Swift's other side.

Swift testified that after she was groped, she numbly told Mueller and his girlfriend, "Thank you for coming", and moved on to photos with others because she did not want to disappoint them. But she said she immediately went to her photographer after the meet-and-greet and found the photo, telling the photographer what happened.

Swift's mother testified that she asked radio liaison Frank Bell to call Mueller's employers. She and Mr Bell did not call police to avoid further traumatising her daughter, she said.

"We absolutely wanted to keep it private. But we didn't want him to get away with it," she testified.

Mr Bell said he emailed the photo to Robert Call, KYGO-FM's general manager, so Mr Call could use it in his investigation of Mueller.

Jurors rejected Mueller's claims Andrea Swift and Mr Bell cost him his job.

US District Judge William Martinez last Friday dismissed claims Swift ruined Mueller's career, ruling Mueller's legal team failed to present evidence that the then 23-year-old star did anything more than report the groping to her representatives, including her mother.

Irish Independent

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