Pop star Taylor Swift has won an important ruling in the trial stemming from her allegation that she was groped by a Colorado disc jockey, with the judge dismissing the DJ’s rival claim accusing the singer of wrongfully getting him fired.
The ruling by US District Judge William Martinez left intact Swift’s assault and battery countersuit against David Mueller, who asserts he was falsely accused by the recording star and ousted from his $150,000 ($190,000) a-year job at radio station KYGO-FM under pressure from her.
The Grammy-winning artist known for such hits as Fearless and I Knew Your Were Trouble reacted to the decision with tears of joy, embracing members of her legal team and family members with bear hugs in the courtroom.
Mueller sat alone at the plaintiff’s table, appearing sombre as he sipped a glass of water.
Friday’s decision capped the fifth day of a trial highlighted by vivid testimony from Swift charging that Mueller clutched her bare buttocks during a pre-concert fan reception in 2013 against Mueller’s assertion under oath that he did no such thing.
Ryan Kliesch, a Denver radio host, emerges from the federal courthouse after testifying in the civil trial for pop singer Taylor Swift.AAP
The judge had tossed out Mueller’s defamation-of-character claim against Swift before the trial, ruling that the former Denver DJ had waited too long to file suit under the statute of limitations.
Earlier on Friday, Swift’s former bodyguard corroborated her account of being groped by Mueller, testifying that he saw the radio personality slip his hand under the singer’s skirt as they posed together for a photo with Mueller’s then-girlfriend.
Lawyers for both sides rested their respective cases after the ex-girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, took the stand as the final witness to deny seeing Mueller inappropriately touch Swift during the picture-taking session. But she added, “I don’t have eyes in the back of my head.”
After jurors were excused for the day, Swift’s lawyer, J Douglas Baldridge, asked the judge to throw out Mueller’s two remaining legal claims in the trial – disruption of his $150,000-a-year employment contract and interference with his future earnings.
Swift has said her representatives lodged a complaint with KYGO management about the alleged groping but insisted she never demanded Mueller be fired.
Douglas Baldridge, front center, attorney for pop singer Taylor Swift, leads his legal team out of the federal courthouse.AAP
Although Martinez agreed to dismiss both claims as they related to Swift, he kept the contract claim intact for Swift’s two co-defendants – her mother, Andrea, and her radio station liaison Frank Bell.
The eight-member jury also will be left to decide whether Mueller is liable for assault and battery, for which Swift is seeking a symbolic $1 in damages.
Swift, known for baring her soul and her grudges in her music, by all accounts was the undisputed star witness of her own trial, giving an unflinching account of the incident in question on Thursday.
In unvarnished language that occasionally drew titters in the courtroom, even from some jurors, Swift testified that she was the victim of a “devious and sneaky act.”
“Your client grabbed my ass,” she told Mueller’s lawyer, Gabriel McFarland. “He stayed latched onto my bare ass cheek. I felt him grab onto my ass cheek under my skirt.”