What We Know So Far
- The case involved dueling lawsuits — Taylor Swift alleged radio DJ David "Jackson" Mueller grabbed her butt from under her skirt at a backstage photo op in 2013. Mueller claimed the allegations were false and got him fired.
- Mueller filed his lawsuit first, in 2015. Swift filed hers in response as an example to other women "who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts."
- The jury of six women and two men sided with Swift on all claims, and rejected Mueller's argument that she was responsible for him being fired.
- Mueller had been asking for up to $3 million, while Swift only wanted $1 in what her attorney said was a symbolic gesture to show other women "you can always say no."
- For everything you need to know about the background of the case, go here.
DJ says he knew the odds were against him in groping case
The DJ convicted by a jury of groping Taylor Swift at an event in 2013 told the Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that the verdict did not surprise him.
"I was not pleased with the verdict, but I wasn't surprised," David Mueller said.
On Monday, a federal civil jury in Denver found Mueller guilty of sexual assault and battery, while also rejecting his claim that Swift or her team were responsible for his getting fired after the incident.
Since the case was civil, not criminal, Mueller was only ordered to pay Swift what she had asked for in her competing lawsuit: $1 as a symbolic gesture that she decided to fight in court on behalf of all women who face assault and harassment.
Mueller, who had accused Taylor of defamation and argued that her allegation — which he denies — cost him his career, acknowledged that the odds were weighted heavily in Swift's favor, but told the AP he felt he needed to defend himself in court.
"I knew that I couldn't go on with my life without representing myself. I'm never going to back down," he said. "I wanted to see it through. I thought, 'Let the jury decide.'"
Jury finds DJ groped Taylor Swift in 2013
A federal jury on Monday found that a DJ groped Taylor Swift at a meet-and-greet in 2013, vindicating a pop star who has cast her legal fight as one for all women who deal with unwanted touching.
As the verdict was read in court, Swift's mother, who was crying, immediately hugged her daughter.
The DJ, David Mueller, initially sued Swift for defamation in 2015, saying the groping allegation was false and ruined his career. That prompted Swift to then countersue, alleging sexual assault.
On Monday, two years later, the jury of six women and two men unanimously sided with Swift, finding him guilty of assault and battery, and awarded what she had asked for: a symbolic $1 as a message that her lawsuit wasn’t about anything other than taking a stand for women.
Mueller had asked the jury to award him $250,000, claiming Swift’s mother Andrea and radio liaison Frank Bell had a direct hand in getting him fired from station KYGO, but the jury rejected that. The judge last week tossed out a similar claim he had made against the pop star.
Multiple witnesses, including Swift’s backstage photographer and a former bodyguard, backed the singer up during the trial.
Groping case goes to jury as attorneys focus on credibility
The case of whether a DJ groped Taylor Swift went to jurors Monday after both sides made their case for who had more credibility.
Swift alleges in lawsuit that DJ David Mueller groped her butt under her skirt at an meet-and-greet in 2013. Mueller claims he was falsely accused and, as a result, his career was ruined when the radio station fired him.
The federal judge overseeing the case cleared Swift of any liability on Mueller’s claim, leaving the jury to render a verdict on the sexual assault allegation.
Despite a photo that shows Mueller’s hand behind Swift and down near her backside, experts have said that without definitive proof, the case would likely come down to credibility.
During his closing argument in Denver on Monday, Swift’s attorney, Douglas Baldridge, said Mueller changed his story and destroyed purported evidence on multiple electronic devices.
“Folks, it’s not even a close call on credibility,” Baldridge said. “No credibility goes with a story-changing evidence destroyer like Mr. Mueller. He’s got no credibility.”
“That guy did it,” he added. “Don’t be fooled…It’s time to stop the victimization of victims in this country and in this courtroom.”
Swift’s legal team has said the pop star is only suing for $1 as a symbolic gesture to show other women “you can always say no.”
However, Mueller’s attorney, Gabriel McFarland, sought to cast doubt on Swift’s allegation, arguing his client would have been foolish to attempt such grab at a venue surrounded by staff and security.
“Look at Ms. Swift’s face,” McFarland said, referring to the infamous photo. “Is that the face of someone who’s in shock, who is upset? There’s nothing to suggest in Ms. Swift’s face that anything inappropriate is happening.”
Here's the story behind the Post-it note window messages that have become a fixture at the Taylor Swift trial
Carly Chapple was at her desk early Tuesday when she looked out the second-story window and saw a group of Taylor Swift fans lining up outside the federal courthouse in Denver.
It was the first day of testimony for the case in which Swift says DJ David Mueller groped her butt at a meet-in-greet in 2013.
Inspired and excited by the commotion across the street, Chapple, who works for the website Craftsy, got to work doing what she knows best — crafting.
“I was here working really early and thought it might be fun to put a sign or something up on the window,” she said. “And I had some Post-its, so I just kind of went with it.”
When her co-workers arrived, they endorsed the idea of supporting Swift and encouraged Chapple to keep it going. The messages have since become a daily fixture of the trial as fans line up each morning for a seat inside the courtroom.
Chapple and her co-workers now meet every day to plan their next Post-it message as Swift fans.
"We are just a group of creative women just supporting another creative woman," Chapple said.
Read more here.
Judge says DJ can't prove Taylor Swift got him fired over groping allegation
A federal judge on Friday dismissed a DJ’s claim against Taylor Swift, saying he couldn't prove that she effectively ruined his career when she alleged that he groped her during a meet-and-greet in 2013.
After the judge read the ruling, Swift hugged her attorney and brother, who was in the audience.
"It was a big celebration," said one eye witness who was there after officials cleared the court's media area. "Everyone was hugging each other."
The ruling, however, does not end the trial, with Swift’s claim of sexual assault against DJ David Mueller still left unresolved, but it does mean the pop star won’t be held personally liable for his firing.
Mueller had sought up to $3 million in damages from Swift, claiming he was falsely accused and, as a result, fired from radio station KYGO. His career, he says, never recovered.
But Judge William J. Martinez determined Mueller failed to show a direct connection between his firing and what Swift told her mother and staff happened the day of the alleged incident.
Mueller's claim will be allowed to continue in a limited scope against Swift's radio liaison, Frank Bell, and mother, Andrea, who communicated directly with KYGO station managers.
Swift’s attorney, Douglas Baldridge, argued Friday that Mueller had misdirected his grievance toward someone who had no direct control over his employment.
“Mr. Mueller’s beef is with KYGO, not with my client,” Baldridge said. “KYGO did him wrong and he didn’t sue KYGO.”
Mueller’s attorney, Gabriel McFarland, tried to argue that when Bell brought the groping allegation to KYGO management, he was acting on her behalf even if he wasn’t technically her employee, thus making her complicit in the DJ’s firing.
“She falsely accused Mr. Mueller of inappropriate touching,” McFarland said.
“Is that what the evidence shows?” Martinez asked. “Or does the evidence show she told her mother?”
Ultimately, the judge ruled the connection Mueller’s legal team was trying to make against Swift wasn’t strong enough to go forward in court.
Closing arguments in the sexual assault phase of the trial are expected to being Monday after Swift's attorney said he would not call any witnesses for his case.
DJ's ex-girlfriend says infamous photo happened too quick to notice anything
The ex-girlfriend of the DJ accused of groping Taylor Swift testified Friday that the infamous photo that captured the alleged incident happened very quickly and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
In the photo, obtained by TMZ, Shannon Melcher is seen on side of Swift, presumably with her arm around her, and her then-boyfriend, David Mueller, is on the other side with his hand lower, behind the singer's backside.
“The photo happened very quickly,” Melcher said, adding that she wasn’t paying attention to what Mueller was doing when they huddled for the photo.
Taylor Swift's bodyguard says he witnessed DJ's groping
Taylor Swift's bodyguard, Gregory Dent, testified Friday that he "definitely" saw DJ David Mueller put his hand under the singer's skirt when he took a picture with her backstage in 2013.
"I know I saw it," Dent said. "When he went to put his arm around her, he put his hand under her skirt."
Dent, who said he "went everywhere [Swift] went," testified that the inappropriate touching happened before the photo was taken.
The bodyguard said he "didn’t do anything" about the touching "because sometimes [Swift] said I was a little too mean.”
“I can’t tell you how long his hand was there. I just can tell you he put his hand under her skirt, she pushed it down, and jumped," he said.
When Mueller's attorney questioned why Dent did nothing, he said, "I take my cues from her and she continued with the photo."
Dent said when Mueller put his hand under her skirt, Swift jumped, pushed her skirt down and moved closer to the DJ's girlfriend. After the meet-and-greet, Dent said Taylor told the other people in the room what happened, and they looked through the camera and found the photo.
On Thursday, backstage photographer Stephanie Simbeck testified that she, too, saw Mueller grope the singer.
After the alleged groping, Dent said he took a more proactive approach to managing fans during the meet-and-greet.
"I wouldn't let [Swift] hear me, but I told the male fans to keep their hands up high," he said.
—Claudia Rosenbaum and Cora Lewis
Photographer backs up Taylor Swift groping allegation
Taylor Swift’s backstage photographer testified Thursday that she witnessed a Denver DJ grab the singer’s butt during a meet-and-greet in 2013.
“I saw it happen. I saw his hand grab her ass,” the photographer, Stephanie Simbeck, told jurors in Denver.
She was referring to DJ David Mueller, who Swift alleges grabbed her butt under her skirt during a meet-and-greet photo op.
Simbeck said she has taken thousands of photos of Swift backstage, but has never witnessed anything like that day.
She and Swift’s room manager, Erica Worden, both testified that after everyone left the room, the pop star told the team “that guy grabbed me.”
That’s when they went back to Simbeck’s photo and Swift immediately pointed Mueller out as the alleged culprit.
Mueller says he was falsely accused and, as a result, his career was ruined. He is suing for up to $3 million, while Swift, who countersued for sexual assault, is seeking just $1.
Testimony in the case will resume Friday.
Radio program director says he has no doubt DJ groped Taylor Swift
The radio station director who once managed the DJ accused of groping Taylor Swift under her skirt in 2013 said Thursday that he has no doubt the allegations are true.
Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, KYGO program director Eddie Haskell said he was also appalled when DJ David Mueller suggested in his testimony that Haskell may have been the culprit, telling jurors his boss had been discussing whether the singer was wearing bike shorts under her dress.
Haskell said he had merely been talking about how wearing bike shorts would be the only way the pop star could pull off so many costume changes in front of her crew during a show, and found Mueller’s implication “disgusting.”
“Really, to me, it was disgusting to make those comments because I still see her as a little 15-year-old girl,” he said, adding that “it was frustrating and hurtful.”
Mueller claimed in a lawsuit in 2015 that he lost his job after being falsely accused of reaching under Swift’s skirt and groping her buttocks during a meet-and-greet photo op. Swift responded with her own lawsuit, alleging sexual assault.
Asked if he had any doubt the DJ had, indeed, groped Swift, Haskell simply responded, “No.”
Radio exec says he fired DJ because he changed his story on alleged groping
The radio executive who fired the DJ accused of groping Taylor Swift in 2013 said he did so because of the photo of the alleged assault and a changing explanation.
Robert Call, the vice president of radio station KYGO, told jurors in Denver on Thursday that input from Swift’s liaison also influenced his decision to fire the DJ, David Mueller, “for touching Taylor’s rear end."
The photo, Call said, shows Mueller’s hand, “in my mind, without question, behind Ms. Swift’s rear end.”
He also said Mueller — who sued Swift for defamation and a ruined career — changed his story when confronted with the allegation, and that he trusted the account relayed to him by Swift’s respected radio liaison, Frank Bell.
“I had no reason to disbelieve what he was telling me,” Call said. “My understanding was that he had put his hand under her dress and grabbed her rear end.”
Mueller claims in his lawsuit that he lost his job over what he insists are false allegations. Swift countersued alleging sexual assault, which she testified to earlier in the day, telling jurors that Mueller "stayed latched onto my bare ass cheek” during a meet-and-greet photo op in 2013.
Taylor Swift testifies that DJ's "definite grab" was "despicable"
Taylor Swift on Thursday testified that it was "a definite grab" when a DJ allegedly groped her during a meet-and-greet in 2013, calling the act "despicable" and "very shocking."
"It was a very shocking thing that I have never dealt with before," the singer told jurors. "He grabbed my ass underneath my skirt. It was underneath my skirt."
It was the first time the pop star had taken the stand in the trial over whether DJ David Mueller groped her at a concert venue in Denver while posing for a photo.
Mueller claims he was falsely accused and, as a result, lost his job. Two years later in 2015, he filed a defamation lawsuit against Swift, who countersued for sexual assault.
Taking the stand in federal court in Denver, Swift said Mueller "stayed latched onto my bare ass cheek as I moved away from him, visibly uncomfortable."
Taylor Swift's mother says she didn't want alleged groping incident to "define her"
Taylor Swift’s mother on Wednesday told jurors she was horrified in 2013 when her daughter told her “a guy just grabbed my ass in the meet-and-greet,” but that they decided not to go to police to avoid public scrutiny.
“I was very upset,” Andrea Swift said when recalling being informed by her daughter. “I was upset to the point where I wanted to vomit and cry at the same time — that upset.”
At times becoming teary-eyed in the federal courtroom, Andrea Swift said after deciding to eject the DJ, David Mueller, who allegedly groped her daughter, the team chose to go to his radio station managers rather than police in an effort to keep it out of the media.
“I did not want this event to define her life,” Andrea Swift told jurors. “I did not want every interview from this point on to have to talk about it. … I did not want her to go through the endless memes and trolls and make her relive that awful moment.”
At the same time, she said, “we did not want him to get away with it.”
Frank Bell, who served as Taylor Swift's liaison for radio stations, also testified Wednesday that the singer told him directly about the alleged groping.
He recalled the singer-songwriter telling him, “this guy from radio stuck his hand up my skirt and grabbed my bare ass,” and that the photographer then said that she had a picture of it.
“We didn’t want that photo out,” Bell said. “We thought it was very embarrassing and humiliating."
Mueller was ultimately fired over the allegation, but two years later, he filed a lawsuit, claiming he had been defamed and wrongly accused by the pop singer. Taylor Swift, in turn, filed a countersuit alleging sexual assault.
After hearing from Mueller on the stand, the federal jury in Denver is expected to hear from Taylor Swift. However, her mother’s powerful testimony was the first time the jury heard the Swift family’s account of what happened.
“I knew what happened,” she told jurors before turning to Mueller. “I heard it directly from my daughter’s mouth. … He sexually assaulted her. Right there — that guy.”
DJ admits his pose with Swift was "awkward"
The DJ accused of groping Taylor Swift’s butt in 2013 admitted in court Wednesday that his pose in the photo that allegedly captured the incident was “awkward,” but insisted his hand never touched her backside.
David Mueller also testified that had he had more time during the rushed backstage photo op, he would have placed his hand in a different location.
Swift’s attorney, Douglas Baldridge, also grilled Mueller about how much alcohol he had consumed at the event. Mueller said he only had one sip, but acknowledged that others around him thought he was inebriated.
Asked if he thought if was ever OK to touch a woman’s backside without her permission, Mueller responded simply: “No, sir.”
Mueller filed a lawsuit against Swift, claiming her allegations that he groped her butt from under her skirt were false, got him fired, and effectively ruined his career. Swift countersued, alleging sexual assault.
"The reason I'm here, first and foremost, is to clear my name. That is the only chance I have to work in radio again," Mueller said Wednesday.
Swift is expected to eventually testify in the federal civil trial.
Taylor Swift fans rally to her side as courtroom battle unfolds
Taylor Swift sat quietly in federal court Tuesday as the DJ she alleges groped her in 2013 took the stand in his defense, observing with a sharp focus and periodically whispering to her attorney.
It was the first day of testimony in the case, in which DJ David Mueller claims in a defamation lawsuit that the singer falsely accused him and ruined his career.
But as Mueller gave his version of events, the megastar also took some time to acknowledge another contingent in the courtroom: her fans.
“She mouthed to us multiple times, ‘Thank you for coming. I love you,’” Dani Kuta, 17, told BuzzFeed News outside the courtroom. “She was nothing short of what you would expect.”
“It just showed she appreciated some of her fans being there, so that was cool,” added 17-year-old Gracey Jarecke.
The teens were among the 20 or so Swift fans who secured seats in the courtroom after waiting outside early Tuesday morning.
For some of them, it wasn’t just about getting close to one of their favorite music stars, but to support her motivation for going through with the legal battle.
Swift has said she is countersuing Mueller for just $1 to prove that she isn’t in it for the money, but instead to serve as an example for women to stand up against unacceptable behavior.
“I think it shows that her incentive is nothing but justice,” Kuta said. “Women get sexually assaulted every single day and this is a big deal, it’s common, and the fact that she can fight it with her fame, then I think anyone can.”
Mueller is expected to resume his testimony when court reconvenes on Wednesday.
DJ admits he can't think of why Swift would lie about groping allegation
The DJ accused of groping Taylor Swift in 2013 admitted Tuesday that he could think of no reason why the megastar would lie.
David Mueller says he was falsely accused — and was fired by his radio station as a result — and filed a defamation lawsuit against Swift in two years later in 2015, prompting the singer to countersue.
But when under cross examination by Swift’s attorney, Douglas Baldridge, about why the megastar would make up the allegation, Mueller was at a loss.
“You cannot identify any reason, incentive, and motive why Swift would want to be involved in two years of litigation with you?” Baldridge asked.
Mueller also acknowledged that he had been warned by two separate people prior to the Swift concert that he was at risk of being let go due to tense workplace relationships.
And he was pressed repeatedly about how five electronic devices that supposedly had a recording of his conversation with his superiors regarding Swift’s allegation had all mysteriously ceased to function or disappear.
From spilled coffee on a laptop and a malfunctioning iPhone, to misplacing an external hard drive, Mueller told the court their potential importance never struck him as an issue.
“To be perfectly frank, I was never told that these items were evidence,” he said. “I wasn’t aware that these things would all be considered evidence.”
Mueller also said that he and his then-girlfriend were the only adult couple at the meet-and-greet and ended up spending less than a minute with Swift, during which she acted “cold and standoffish.”
Mueller had previously testified that Swift was the one who had suggested the photo op, and that he jumped in at the last minute.
“She didn’t acknowledge me when it came time to take the photograph,” Mueller said. “It doesn’t matter if you are the overnight DJ…but everyone deserves professional respect.”
Baldridge is expected to continue his cross-examination of Mueller on Wednesday.
Under oath, DJ denies groping Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift attorney attacks credibility of alleged groper
Taylor Swift’s attorney on Tuesday attacked the credibility of the DJ accused of groping the pop singer, saying he changed his story multiple times and destroyed “every bit of computer evidence.”
The DJ, David Mueller, is suing for up to $3 million, claiming he was falsely accused of groping Swift at a meet-and-greet in 2013 and subsequently lost his job.
However, Mueller has previously told the court that he spilled coffee on, and eventually lost, a laptop that allegedly contained a two-hour audio file of a phone call he recorded with his employers the day after he was informed of Swift’s groping allegations.
Mueller did keep a copy of the audio file on an external hard drive, but he later reported that even that device had “stopped working.” He at one point also blamed another radio station employee for alleged butt-grab.
“He destroyed the evidence,” Swift's attorney, Douglas Baldridge, said. “The alibi that the other guy did it didn’t come up till two years later.”
Taking the stand for the first time, Mueller described his role at station KYGO as his "dream job" and was eager to clear his name.
He added that he only attended the concert was at the behest of his boss.
Opening statements begin in Taylor Swift groping trial
Taylor Swift’s legal team on Tuesday began walking jurors through a 2013 backstage photo shoot where the singer alleges a disc jockey reached under her skirt and grabbed her butt.
“It was an assault and Ms. Swift reported it,” the singer’s attorney, Douglas Baldridge, said. “She has been in tens of thousands of meet-and-greets, including going out in the crowds, and she never had this happen.”
Swift and the DJ, David Mueller, are in federal court in Denver for lawsuits they filed against each other over the allegations.
Mueller was first to file his lawsuit in 2015, claiming the allegations were false and led to his being fired. Swift followed with a lawsuit of her own against Mueller, alleging sexual assault.
Now, two years later, the jury of two men and six women will decide who’s telling the truth.
In his opening statement Tuesday, Mueller’s attorney, Gabriel McFarland, told jurors that sexual assault is clearly wrong, but so is “falsely accusing someone” of inappropriately touching.
“David Mueller unequivocally denies he touched her inappropriately in anyway,” McFarland said. “No inappropriate contact that is Mr. Mueller’s position.”
A piece of evidence that will play a central role in the trial is a photograph obtained by TMZ and sealed by the court that shows Mueller standing next to Swift with his hand behind her and below her waist.
Jury selection in Taylor Swift trial kicks off
Jury selection began Monday in the federal trial over whether a radio DJ reached under Taylor Swift’s skirt and grabbed her butt during a backstage photo shoot in 2013.
The civil trial involves competing lawsuits, the first one filed in 2015 by David "Jackson" Mueller, who cohosted a show called Ryno and Jackson on station KYGO. He denies groping the singer, and says in his lawsuit that he was wrongfully fired after Swift brought the allegation to station executives.
Taylor countersued, alleging sexual assault.
Mueller, who was 51 at the time, was backstage at Swift’s concert at the Pepsi Center in Denver with his then-girlfriend when they met the superstar and posed for a photo. After leaving, Swift’s security team confronted Mueller with the groping allegation, kicked him out, and contacted his managers at the radio station.