Radio personality David Mueller, a DJ accused of groping popstar Taylor Swift during a photo shoot four years ago, testified on Tuesday he made innocent physical contact with the singer as they posed together but denied any inappropriate behaviour.
Taking the witness stand on the first day of testimony, Mueller said Swift’s allegations, which he emphatically denied, “cost me my career, my passion, my income”.
Mueller, 55, was fired from his US$150,000-a-year job (HK$1,172,350) at radio station KYGO-FM over Swift’s accusations, and insists the case he brought against Swift was about more than just the loss of his livelihood and money.
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“I want to clear my name,” he said. “It’s a humiliating experience to be accused of something so despicable.”
According to Swift, Mueller slipped his hand under her dress and grabbed her bare buttocks as the two posed during a meet-and-greet session before a June 2013 concert in Denver.
“It was not an accident, it was completely intentional, and I have never been so sure of anything in my life,” Swift, 27, said in a deposition.
Swift's mother, Andrea, seated beside her, teared up at an early mention of the alleged groping incident. The singer is expected to take the witness stand herself later in the trial
Under questioning from his lawyer, Mueller recounted he may have made contact with the side of Swift’s body or brushed her arm and hand while they posed for pictures, but when asked if he had grabbed her backside, Mueller said flatly, “No, I did not.”
Mueller testified he had no clue anything was wrong until Swift's security tream approached him that evening to tell him of her allegation, and threatened to call the police. Mueller was also told he was banned from all future Swift concerts.
The litigation was initiated by Mueller, who claims Swift fabricated the groping story and pressured station management to fire him. His lawsuit seeks lost earnings.
Swift countersued asking for monetary damages of just US$1 (HK$7.8). Her representatives informed KYGO management about the incident but that she never demanded Mueller be fired.
In his opening statement on Tuesday, Swift’s lawyer, J. Douglas Baldridge, said Mueller committed an assault on Swift and was now targeting her for money and fame, telling the jury, “he wants to make the victim pay the price.”
He later grilled Mueller aggressively under cross-examination, noting that the DJ did not sue his former bosses or the radio station over his dismissal.
Mueller’s lawyer, Gabriel McFarland, opened his case by showing the eight-member jury a picture from the photo shoot in question and said his client’s hand was not under Swift’s skirt.
“Let’s be clear, inappropriate touching is offensive. It’s wrong and it should not be tolerated ... Falsely accusing is equally offensive and it’s equally wrong,” he said.