Taylor Swift no longer defendant in lawsuit against her, others

Posted at 6:09 PM, Aug 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-11 20:09:56-04

By Eric Levenson, Scott McLean and Sara Weisfeldt, CNN

Breaking news update, published at 6:02 p.m. MDT

Taylor Swift is no longer a defendant in a lawsuit brought by a former DJ in Colorado who says her allegation that he groped her led to his firing, a judge ruled Friday evening. The federal suit brought by ex-DJ David Mueller will continue with just the singer’s mother, Andrea Swift, and radio promotions director, Frank Bell, as defendants. A jury will hear closing arguments in the case and Taylor Swift’s countersuit against Mueller beginning Monday morning.

Previous story, published at 3:13 p.m. MDT

Taylor Swift’s attorneys declined to call any witnesses on Friday in her civil lawsuit against a former radio DJ who allegedly groped her at a meet-and-greet in June 2013.

The jury was sent home for the weekend, and closing arguments are expected on Monday morning, the judge said.

David Mueller, the former radio DJ for KYGO and the plaintiff in the case, argued that he was fired from his job after Swift falsely accused him of inappropriate touching. His legal team rested its case on Friday after four days of testimony, including from the singer herself.

Swift’s legal team argued that Mueller had not presented enough evidence for the jury to further consider Swift’s involvement in the case. They asked that Swift be removed from the case.

“Mr. Mueller’s beef is with KYGO, it’s not with my client. That’s the problem with this case,” Swift’s attorney Doug Baldridge said.

A ruling on that motion is expected later on Friday.

Earlier Friday, Swift’s bodyguard testified that he witnessed Mueller reach his hand under Swift’s skirt at a 2013 Denver photo-op in what he called a “violation” of her body.

“I know she wasn’t comfortable with it, that’s why she moved, pushed (her) skirt down and moved closer to the woman,” Greg Dent said.

Dent’s eyewitness testimony bolsters Swift’s allegation that Mueller, a former DJ for Denver radio station KYGO, inappropriately grabbed her buttocks at Denver’s Pepsi Center. KYGO is a CNN affiliate.

The photographer at the meet-and-greet, Stephanie Simbeck, testified Thursday that she also witnessed the alleged groping.

Friday’s court proceedings also featured testimony from Mueller’s then-girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, as well as Mueller’s former radio co-host, Ryan Kliesch. Both said they hadn’t seen Mueller act disrespectfully toward or inappropriately touch women.

Swift: ‘This was not jostling’

The plaintiff’s decision to end testimony in the civil trial comes a day after Swift delivered confident and assertive testimony about the incident, which she called “horrifying and shocking.”

Mueller said in testimony on Tuesday that he simply touched her arm and ribs while “jostling” for the photo. But Swift disagreed with that assertion and said that he intentionally grabbed her buttocks and held on as she attempted to move away.

“This was not jostling,” Swift said. “He did not touch my rib. He did not touch my arm. … He grabbed my bare ass.”

At the end of the meet-and-greet, Swift told her mother, Andrea, and her management team about the incident and identified Mueller as the culprit from a photo, she testified. Her radio promotions director, Frank Bell, told Mueller’s bosses at KYGO, who fired Mueller two days later after conducting their own investigation.

In 2015, Mueller sued Swift, her mother Andrea, and Bell in civil court, claiming that he did not touch her inappropriately and that he lost his job because of a false accusation.

In response, Swift countersued Mueller for alleged assault and battery. Her lawsuit argued that the trial would “serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.”

Swift testified on Thursday that she had no reaction to learning that Mueller had lost his job.

“I’m not going to allow you or your client to make me feel in any way that this is my fault, because it isn’t,” she said.

“I am being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions, and not mine,” Swift added later.

Much of the trial’s testimony has focused on the photo of Swift, Mueller, and Melcher from the meet-and-greet. The image, which has not been officially released but was leaked last year, shows a smiling Mueller with his hand hidden from view behind Swift’s lower rear.

Both sides have attempted to use the photo to support their case, but Swift firmly rejected the plaintiff’s claim that the photo showed nothing inappropriate.

“This is a photo of him with his hand up my skirt — with his hand on my ass,” she said. “You can ask me a million questions — I’m never going to say anything different. I never have said anything different.”

Bodyguard’s account

Dent, a large man with a deep voice, testified that he was positioned off to Swift’s side during the meet-and-greet, and he watched Mueller and his then-girlfriend Shannon Melcher enter for a photo. He testified that he saw Mueller put his hand under her skirt during the photo.

“I know I saw it,” he said. “I don’t believe (I saw it), I know I saw it.”

Mueller’s attorney Gabriel McFarland asked Dent why he did not intervene if he saw the alleged groping.

“I take my cues from her in certain situations, and she continued with the photos,” Dent said.

Dent said he thought Mueller had been drinking alcohol prior to the photo op. Mueller, the plaintiff, testified on Tuesday that he had not had any drinks beforehand.

Mueller has argued that he may have been misidentified, but Dent said he recognized Mueller as the culprit without looking at the photo of them.

“We weren’t doing a police lineup. I was standing right there,” he said. “I saw him. I didn’t need to go look at the camera to see what he looked like.”

The incident changed the way Dent dealt with future meet-and-greets, he said. From then on, he would quietly warn male photo takers to keep their hands high.

‘I don’t have eyes in the back of my head’

Melcher, who was in the photo with Swift and Mueller, was the plaintiff’s final witness on Friday. She said that she didn’t notice anything odd occur as they posed for the camera.

“I remember (Swift) putting her arm around me and leaning in and Dave (Mueller) was trying to get in from the left side,” she said.

She said she didn’t recall Swift bumping or moving into her as they posed for the photo, as Swift testified.

Melcher testified that she didn’t see any inappropriate touching, though she added, “I don’t have eyes in the back of my head.”

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