Taylor Swift groping trial, Day 2: Ex-DJ's cross-examination continues

Taylor Swift groping trial, Day 2: Ex-DJ's cross-examination continuesEntertainment

Taylor Swift fans waited outside a Denver courthouse on Wednesday for a chance to see the pop star in court in a civil case she has lodged against a DJ accused of groping her. (August 9) AP

The Taylor Swift-vs-ex-DJ groping trial moved into the second day of testimony in federal court Wednesday in Denver with the continuation of radio host David Mueller’s cross-examination by Swift’s lawyers. 

Mueller has acknowledged that a photo of him with his hand behind Taylor Swift is “weird and awkward,” but he says he never groped her rear as she alleges.

Then why, Swift attorney Douglas Baldridge repeatedly asked him, is his right hand behind Swift in a picture of the 2013 pre-concert photo op?

Mueller says his hand was touching Swift’s skirt after he put his arm around her and their arms got crossed. He said his hand was at rib-cage level and “apparently it went down.”

Baldridge showed the jury several photographs of fans meeting with Swift during the photo op, including another man who had his arm around Swift’s shoulder.

Baldridge also told the jury that Swift’s bodyguard, Greg Dent, testified in a deposition that he saw Mueller lift Swift’s skirt during the encounter, and her photographer, Stephanie Simbeck, testified in a deposition that she heard Swift say “that guy” had grabbed her behind. Dent and Simbeck are listed as possible witnesses.

Once Mueller is finished with his testimony, his lawyers are expected to begin calling his witnesses, including an expert who will testify about Mueller’s lost income after he was fired by his radio station following the encounter with Swift. 

The trial resumed after a delay Wednesday when Judge William Martinez cleared the courtroom for a sidebar huddle about evidence with lawyers on both sides.

Mueller told the eight-member jury on Tuesday that he did not intentionally grope Swift’s bottom in the 2013 encounter. Instead, he said, he may have touched Swift’s “rib cage, or rib, or ribs” with a closed hand as he tried to jump into the photo with the pop star.

In his opening statement, Mueller’s lawyer, Gabriel McFarland, portrayed Mueller as a victim — of Swift’s mistaken identification of him as the groper, and of her alleged pressure on his bosses to punish him. He said inappropriate touching is wrong, but “falsely accusing” someone of the offense is also wrong.

But Mueller was subjected to aggressive questioning by Baldridge, who described him as desperate for attention, cash and revenge.

Mueller was fired by his radio station two days after the encounter with Swift, and sued her, her mother and her management team two years later, seeking $3 million in compensation for lost income and for allegedly ruining his reputation.

Swift then countersued Mueller, identifying him as the man who groped her. She is seeking a symbolic $1 to serve as an example to other women who have been assaulted that “you can always say no,” her lawyer told the jury. 

The civil trial, before a jury of six women and two men, is taking place in the federal courthouse in downtown Denver; it’s expected to last nine days.

On Tuesday, jurors were shown a photo taken of Swift and Mueller during the encounter in question, which shows Mueller with his hand behind Swift, just below her waist. Both are smiling in the picture.

Swift’s lawyers argue the photo is “damning proof” that something untoward happened. Mueller’s lawyer rejected that argument. 

“If you look at that photograph, his hand is not underneath Miss Swift’s skirt, and her skirt is not rumpled in any fashion,” McFarland told the jury.

One of Mueller’s station bosses, Hershel Coomer, also is scheduled to testify at the trial. Mueller testified Tuesday that Coomer told him that he had met Swift earlier before the concert and that “he told me that he had his hands on her butt.” Mueller thought then Coomer was just telling “one of his stories.”

But under cross-examination, Mueller acknowledged he didn’t tell another boss investigating Mueller’s encounter with Swift about the exchange with Coomer, and he couldn’t explain why he didn’t say anything.

Baldridge also pressed Mueller to concede that he couldn’t think of a reason why Swift would have fabricated the groping accusation and that various supervisors with his radio station had discussed the possibility of letting him go even before the encounter with Swift.

Contributing: The Associated Press