DENVER — An outraged but composed Taylor Swift took the witness stand in U.S. District Court Thursday (Aug. 10) morning, giving a performance as much as testimony, complete with dramatic repetition and comedic asides. Referring to David Mueller, the former country-music DJ whom she alleges assaulted her during a 2013 pre-concert photo shoot, she used variations of the phrase “reached under my skirt and grabbed my ass” at least a dozen times.
“There has been a lot of talk about jostling and sliding and gliding into the frame,” the pop superstar said, referring to Mueller’s testimony over the past few days. “This was not jostling. There was no diving into the frame. . . . He did not touch my arm. He did not touch my rib. He did not touch my hand. He grabbed my bare ass.”
As Mueller watched in his usual outfit, a dark suit and tie, from his seat at the plaintiff’s table, Swift repeatedly rebuffed the former KYGO morning-show host’s attorney, Gabriel McFarland, in his attempts to find out what happened during a meet-and-greet for fans and radio employees on June 2, 2013. “It’s very simple,” the singer, 27, said. “You stand there and take a photo. This was not an action shot.”
McFarland tried to pin Swift down several times, asking why she didn’t immediately call police after the incident, where her bodyguard was standing in the photo booth, why he didn’t see anything and why her skirt did not appear to be lifted up in the subsequent meet-and-greet photo. On the first point, Swift said she focused on making sure the remaining fans were having a good time, rather than meeting with members of her management team or security.
When McFarland pressed the point, Swift snapped: “Yes, and your client could have taken a normal photo with me.” Swift testified that she tried to get as far away from Mueller as she could, first mentioning the incident about 15 minutes later to her photographer Stephanie Simbeck.
Two days after Swift’s management team reported her accusation to KYGO, the Denver country station terminated Mueller’s $150,000-per-year contract. Mueller denies any inappropriate touching and calls what happened in the photo booth an “awkward” attempt to move his arm around Swift’s arm and says he may have mistakenly grazed her rib.
Mueller has sued Swift and her team, claiming they cost him his job and is seeking up to $3 million in damages, saing court on Monday that he wants to “clear my name.” Swift countersued, alleging sexual assault, and is asking for a symbolic $1 judgment. Swift’s lawyers have said she does not know Mueller and has no incentive to target him or to fabricate a story.
The case is being tried in federal court under a law allowing the proceeding when the parties live in separate states and the dispute involves a damages claim higher than $75,000.
Wearing a black floral-print dress and bright-red lipstick, her hair tied back, Swift addressed Mueller’s attorney as “Gabe” and occasionally lightened up her testimony. When McFarland asked if she’d ever seen police shows on television, she smiled broadly and said she named her cat after Mariska Hargitay’s character on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. When a microphone picked up her pouring water into a cup, she joked, “It’s really loud water.”
“It happened to me. I have a 3-D rendition of what happened in my brain,” she said. “I could have picked him out of a line of 1,000. I know exactly who did this. It is not alleged. It is a fact. . . . You can ask me a million questions about it and I’m never going to say anything different.”
After Swift finished, her attorney, David Baldridge, said: “Absolutely no further questions, your honor.”