A jury of six women and two men has ruled in favor of Taylor Swift and her management team in a civil case brought forward by a former Denver DJ who claimed that he lost his job and any future employment prospects in radio because he was falsely accused of groping her.
The jury cleared Taylor Swift's mom, Andrea, and so-called radio guy Frank Bell of interfering with former KYGO morning show host David Mueller's contract just before the end of business hours Friday afternoon.
They said they had evidence to believe that Mueller was guilty of the assault and battery asserted in Swift's counterclaim. She was awarded the $1 she asked for -- a number her attorney Doug Baldridge says “has immeasurable value” in the scheme of things.
Mueller sued Swift in civil court two years after the June 2, 2013 meet-and-greet at the Pepsi Center. After a judge ruled late Friday afternoon there was insufficient evidence for a jury to find any wrongdoing on Swift’s part, Mueller’s case became focused on Andrea Swift Bell, a member of her management team.
During her testimony on Wednesday, Andrea Swift admitted that she wanted Mueller to be fired after her daughter alleged he “groped her bare ass.” Bell was the one who made the call to KYGO and asked them to take “appropriate action.”
The civil trial began on Tuesday at the Alfred A. Arraj Federal Courthouse in downtown Denver, and has sparked media interest from around the world. Each day, more than two dozen fans have lined up for seats in the courtroom, amid dozens of cameras and journalists.
Baldridge and Gabe McFarland, Mueller’s attorney, presented impassioned closing arguments on Monday morning.
McFarland says the case is a question of motives. Why would Mueller, a man who had just gotten his dream job, grope Swift while his girlfriend was standing just a few feet away?
Swift’s team had a different question: why would the pop star fabricate a story about a man she had never met?
Both teams argued that the proof lies in a now-infamous photo of the meet-and-greet, which has been presented as evidence multiple times during the trial and was leaked to TMZ a few months ago.
McFarland claims if Mueller had been touching Swift inappropriately like her team claims, her skirt would have appeared ruffled and she would have looked more distraught.
Baldridge claims Mueller’s hand is clearly somewhere that it should not be, and that it’s very clear when you compare it to other meet-and-greet photos.
Swift’s attorney went as far as to put together a “police lineup” showing other photos from the meet-and-greet.
As Mueller testified, he was put in a line other than the VIP line, and he and his girlfriend Shannon Melcher were the only adults there.
Because of this, Baldridge argued during his closing statement that it would have been very difficult for Swift to confuse Mueller with someone else, something that his team has implied.
McFarland says much of the wrongdoing comes down to the investigation. In Mueller’s KYGO contract, it’s very clear that he can be fired for allegations of misconduct. That’s why it comes down to Andrea Swift and Bell -- the ones who brought what happened to the DJ’s employer without doing their due diligence, McFarland argued.
He says Bell should have spoken to more people who were present at the meet-and-greet, and avoided threatening KYGO with potential economic action if they didn’t take “appropriate action.”
Baldridge countered this, arguing that Swift was performing pop music at the time and her pulling her music from a country radio station wouldn’t have much, if any, impact.
McFarland admits Taylor Swift had every right in the world to report what she believed happened, even though he says he believes she was mistaken, that the stories told by her witnesses didn’t add up.
He went as far as to claim that Greg Dent, Swift’s former bodyguard, lied on the stand. The reason he thinks that is because the former NSA officer didn’t intervene when he claims he saw Mueller’s hand reach up Swift’s skirt.
“There’s certainly no way that a professionally trained bodyguard who is solely trained to protect Ms. Swift’s body wouldn’t jump into the way,” McFarland said.
Baldridge said you can chalk this up to the fact that Dent says he takes cues from Swift, and that Swift seemed like she wanted him to wait, that she sometimes accused him of being too mean.
Swift’s team asked why Mueller didn’t mention his story about fellow KYGO employee Eddie Haskell to his bosses.
On the stand, Mueller said Haskell had told him he thought Swift was wearing bike shorts, implying that he was perhaps the one who inappropriately touched the singer.
Baldridge argued that this proves Mueller is just trying to divert the blame and throw his former boss -- who he admittedly had a strained relationship with -- under the bus.
McFarland says this wasn’t the case, and that they weren’t trying to cast Haskell in a bad light although they admit the exchange was odd.
During McFarland’s closing arguments, Taylor Swift was seen audibly gasping and at one point wiping tears from her eyes while her mother comforted her. She mouthed “wow” when it was implied that she had made the entire story up.
Baldridge said he sees the case as something bigger than just Mueller and Swift.
“No doubt about it, Taylor Swift was the subject of offensive conduct,” Baldridge said. “She has no desire to bankrupt this man, so I ask you to award her a single dollar. It is of value in the scheme of things. It says no means no, and it tells you every woman can determine what can be tolerated with her body.”
McFarland, who has a 13-year-old daughter, conceded the law should allow victims to report crimes without fear of retaliation.
But, he says it’s up to other people to make sure what’s done next is responsible.
“I don’t disagree that the law should encourage the truthful reporting of sexual assault,” he said, “but I also agree the law should discourage the false and reckless reporting of sexual assault because … people lose their job. They lose their reputations.”
Mueller is asking for what remained of his two-year contract, which paid $150,000 a year, in addition to $20,000 in lost endorsements.
McFarland says he was never going to ask for $3 million, even though they were initially going to call a witness who says that’s what he should receive in damages. He called this a mischaracterization by the defense, something Baldridge disputes, saying this argument is just another case of Mueller not taking responsibility for his actions.
“As we go through the evidence, every single shred of evidence in every question is glossed with this overriding question: ‘The overriding question is, is the victimization going to stop here or is it going to go on?
“Is the victimization going to continue with Andrea Swift, Frank Bell giving him a payday?” Baldridge asked.
The jury began deliberating on the case and Swift’s countersuit just before 1 p.m. Friday. Their unanimously verdict was handed down at 4:45 p.m.