For Taylor Swift, this month is more about the hot seat than the Hot 100. The long-brewing legal feud between the pop star and former Denver radio morning man David Mueller at last got down to business Monday, Aug. 7, as the gavel fell on the high-profile trial expected to last two weeks.
Jury selection was to start on Monday, with opening statements Tuesday at the Denver federal courthouse. Court documents say it is unlikely that either side will settle, according to AP. And from the start, U.S. District Court judge William Martinez made it clear that Swift is expected to be present for the duration of the trial.
The contentious lawsuit-countersuit—which has been in the news since September 2015, including more than a dozen updates from Inside Radio along the way—began when former country KYGO Denver morning show host Mueller was invited to a backstage meet-and-greet at a Swift concert at Denver’s Pepsi Center on June 2, 2013, and was then fired after being accused by the singer for “groping” her behind during a photo session. He vehemently denied the allegation and sued Swift, contending that she and her team got him fired for no good reason. Swift countersued, claiming sexual assault that left her “shocked and distressed.”
Mueller is seeking up to $3 million in damages, while Swift is looking for a verdict that awards her $1—while holding Mueller responsible and “serving as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts,” her lawsuit says. In her deposition, Swift said that, “right as the moment came for us to pose for the photo, he took his hand and put it up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek, and no matter how much I scooted over, it was still there. It was not an accident.” She has also said: “I have never been so sure of anything in my life.”
To minimize what could no doubt be a frenzied circus atmosphere, judge Martinez laid out rules last month for attorneys, media and fans present in the courthouse for the high-profile trial to prevent the affair from becoming a circus: No electronic devices are allowed in the courtroom, except for those belonging to the parties, their attorneys and court staff. All must remain seated during proceedings and cannot leave until the court recesses. There are 14 dedicated media seats for credentialed press, and 150 additional members of the media will be able to view proceedings from an overflow room.
At the heart of the trial, it appears, is a photograph that depicts the actual moment in question—and whether Mueller’s hand was inappropriately positioned. The image is certainly no longer under wraps, after TMZ published it. It also makes clear just how essential the “he said/she said” testimony was before the jury—since the picture hardly settles the issue.
As the New York Post reports: “The photo shows David Mueller with his right hand behind the singer, just below her waist, before a 2013 concert. It’s inconclusive whether he’s touching her. Both are smiling.”
Among those slated to testify, according to the Post, are Taylor’s mother Andrea Swift, about her decision to contact Mueller’s boss and not call the police over claims of sexual assault; Frank Bell, a member of the singer’s team, about why he contacted Mueller’s bosses at KYGO and what was said (they are also defendants in Mueller’s lawsuit); Shannon Melcher, Mueller’s girlfriend at the time, about standing on the other side of Swift when the photo was taken, and to Mueller’s character; and Greg Dent, Swift’s bodyguard, about what he saw. Mueller is also expected to testify, along with Mueller’s former boss and members of Swift’s entourage, AP reports.