DENVER (Reuters) – Jurors began deliberating on Monday in the closely watched trial of dueling lawsuits by Taylor Swift and a Colorado DJ over her accusations that he groped her bare bottom during a photo shoot and his claims the pop superstar cost him his “dream job.”
The eight-member U.S. District Court jury began deliberating shortly after noon local time (2 p.m. EDT) in Denver after attorneys representing Swift and radio personality David Mueller gave their closing arguments.
The 27-year-old singer’s attorney, Douglas Baldridge, said during his remarks that his famous client was asking only $1 in damages because she had no desire in bankrupting the DJ, only in sending a message.
“It means ‘no means no’ and it tells every woman they will decide what will be tolerated with their body,” Baldridge said of the principle Swift was trying to defend. According to the lawsuit, Swift will donate any damages she receives to charities dedicated to protecting women from sexual assault.
Mueller’s attorney Gabriel McFarland, during his turn at the podium, told jurors his client was a respected industry veteran who never would have risked his $150,000-per-year job to reach under Swift’s skirt and grab her bare rear end.
“That’s not the type of guy who grabs or gropes a superstar out of the blue,” McFarland said of Mueller, adding that Swift’s “300-pound bodyguard” was standing nearby.
McFarland said that a photo of the incident shown repeatedly during the trial shows Swift smiling and that Mueller’s hand was not seen under her skirt.
“He’s not lifting up the skirt … it’s not disturbed, it’s perfectly aligned,” McFarland said.
Swift, wearing a long-sleeved sweater dress and boots, was animated during McFarland’s remarks, at one point throwing her arms apart in an apparent gesture of disbelief when the attorney suggested she should have taken action sooner if she had been grabbed.
Mueller, 55, initiated the litigation, calling the allegations false and suing Swift, her mother and her radio station liaison Frank Bell over his termination.
But U.S. District Judge William Martinez on Friday dismissed Mueller’s accusation against Swift, saying there was no evidence that she had acted improperly.
The judge left standing the singer’s assault and battery countersuit against Mueller, who insisted during the trial that he was falsely accused.
The judge also left intact a single claim by Mueller accusing Swift’s mother and a member of her management team of interfering with his contract and effectively ending his career at radio station KYGO-FM.
Before the trial, Martinez had tossed out Mueller’s defamation-of-character claim against Swift, ruling that he had waited too long to file a lawsuit on those grounds.
Swift, the Grammy-winning artist known for such hits as “Fearless” and “I Knew You Were Trouble,” counter-sued Mueller, saying he slipped a hand under her skirt and clutched her bare buttocks during a pre-concert fan reception while they posed together for pictures.
During the trial she testified that the DJ put his hand under her skirt and “latched onto my bare ass cheek,” causing her to lurch away from him.
The photograph shows Swift flanked by Mueller and his then-girlfriend Shannon Melcher. Mueller’s right hand is concealed behind Swift’s backside, and she appears to be leaning away from him.
(This version of the story corrects paragraph 2 to say “eight-member” jury instead of “12-member”)
Reporting by Keith Coffman and Jann Tracey in Denver; Writing by Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio