Swift is in the clear.
The federal judge overseeing the superstar’s Denver groping trial decided Friday that after five days of testimony, former radio DJ David Mueller failed to prove Swift ruined his career with “false” accusations he reached under her skirt and grabbed her buttock during a 2013 concert reception.
Judge William J. Martinez tossed Mueller’s case against Swift saying there was “no evidence” the Grammy winner did anything wrong when she reported in good faith an assault she believed took place.
“Taylor Swift did not act improperly,” the judge said, as the singer appeared to wipe tears from her eyes.
The decision to drop Swift from Mueller’s action did not signal an end to the case, however. The pop star’s mom, Andrea Swift, and radio manager, Frank Bell, remain respondents in the action that previously sought damages up to $ 3 million.
The jury, due to return for closing arguments Monday, will still consider whether Swift’s mother and Bell interfered with Mueller’s contract by trying to get him fired.
The eight-person panel will also consider Swift’s countersuit against Mueller that claims sexual assault and seeks a symbolic $ 1 judgment.
Speaking from the bench Friday, the judge said Mueller should have named the management company that employs Bell and Andrea Swift in his lawsuit but failed to do so in a timely manner.
“Facts have long been known or available for plaintiff to amend his complaint, but now it’s far too late,” he said.
Bell was the member of Swift’s team who called Mueller’s station after the incident and asked his managers “to take appropriate action.”
“No evidence has been introduced that Mr. Bell is a direct employee of Ms. Swift’s,” the judge said.
The court’s surprise decision capped a five-day trial that included powerful testimony from Swift on Thursday and an appearance by her bodyguard Friday that echoed her account.
Bodyguard Gregory Dent told jurors he personally witnessed Mueller reach under the singer’s dress during at a June 2013 pre-concert meet-and-greet at Denver’s Pepsi Center.
“I saw him take his hand and put it up her skirt,” Dent testified under oath.
“I know I saw it,” the hulking security guard said. “When (Mueller) went to put his arm around her, he put his hand under her skirt.”
Dent said he didn’t know how long the grab lasted, but he recalled Swift’s physical revulsion.
“She jumped away, moved closer to the woman, and proceeded with the meet-and-greet,” Dent testified.
He cited Swift’s clear decision to keep the VIP photos going as the reason he didn’t immediately intervene.
“I take my cues from her in certain situations, so no, I didn’t jump into the front of the picture,” he said.
“I didn’t do anything because she sometimes said I was a little too mean,” Dent added. “I was standing five feet away, so I got a pretty good view.”
He was adamant Mueller crossed a line.
“I thought it was a violation of her body,” he said during his hour-long grilling by Mueller’s lawyer Gabriel McFarland.
Asked during cross examination if he had any doubt Mueller was Swift’s assailant, Dent didn’t miss a beat.
“None whatsoever…I am positive that’s the man,” he said, looking at Mueller sitting 15 feet away.
Dent also disputed Mueller’s assertion he wasn’t drinking alcohol that evening.
“I was definitely sure he had been drinking,” Dent testified.
When the reception ended and Swift reported what happened, Dent went to find Mueller, he said.
“I had a hunch he’d be at the bar so I went to the bar area and him and his girlfriend were coming out of the bar,” Dent said.
Mueller, 55, initiated the courthouse battle when he sued Swift in 2015, leading her to countersue.
Mueller’s ex-girlfriend Shannon Melcher and his former on-air partner Ryan “Ryno” Kliesch also took the witness stand Friday, shortly before Mueller’s lawyer rested and Swift’s team responded with a motion for dismissal.
Melcher and Kliesch both described Mueller as a decent person who was stunned by Swift’s accusations and consistently denied them.
Melcher said she didn’t recall Swift making any sudden movements away from Mueller moments before a meet-and-greet photo of the three of them was snapped. But she “did not have eyes in the back of (her) head” to confirm no touching took place, she conceded.
Melcher told the eight-member jury that when she asked Mueller if he possibly groped Swift, he responded, “I can’t believe you would ask that question.”
She said Mueller took issues of sexual assault seriously and even urged her to report something similar that happened to her to the radio station’s human resources department.
“He was in a state of shock,” Kliesch testified Friday, referring to a conversation he had with Mueller an hour after the incident with Swift.
“He kept saying, ‘I can’t believe what happened…I didn’t do anything,'” Kliesch recalled.
Kliesch said he and Mueller worked together in several markets before Denver and had a successful show during KYGO’s primetime morning slot in 2013.
He never saw Mueller behave disrespectfully toward women, he testified.
On Thursday, Swift gave vivid and unflinching testimony about the alleged assault.
“He stayed latched onto my bare a– cheek as I lurched away from him,” the 27-year-old said.
She was unflappable as Mueller’s lawyer tried to poke holes in her version of events.
“You can ask me a million questions about it and I’m never going to say something different,” she testified. “I never have said anything different.”
Swift said she initially assumed Mueller mistakenly placed his hand on her rear end but quickly determined it was intentional.
“It was a definite grab,” she said. “A very long grab.”
Swift’s testimony marked her first public examination in the highly publicized case.
“He did not touch my ribs. He did not touch my arm. He did not touch my hand,” Swift said. “He grabbed my bare a–.”
She said there was no doubt in her mind Mueller was to blame.
“I could have picked him out of a line of a thousand,” she said.
The photo she took with Mueller and Melcher eventually surfaced, showing the former DJ reaching behind Swift. It does not definitively show direct contact.
When McFarland asked Swift why the front of her skirt wasn’t ruffled in the picture, the singer fired back.
“Because my ass is located on the back of my body,” she said sharply.
Swift said the incident was traumatic.
“A light switched off in my personality,” she said of her reaction.
“I was looking at the floor. I just wanted him to leave,” she said, recalling that she simply thanked Mueller and his girlfriend Shannon Melcher in a monotone voice.
Swift said she continued to take photos with others at the event because she didn’t want to ruin their experience.
Asked how she felt when she learned Mueller lost his job at the Denver station in the wake of her allegations, Swift said it was “a product of his decisions, not mine.”
“I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel like this is my fault,” she told McFarland.
Mueller testified Tuesday that he never touched Swift inappropriately, though he may have had contact with her rib cage.
“It’s a humiliating experience to be accused of something that despicable,” he told the court.
Mueller’s former station supervisor Hershel Coomer testified after Swift Thursday and denied Mueller’s claim that maybe Coomer was the one who groped the singer.
Coomer, known by his radio name Eddie Haskell, said he never told Mueller he touched Swift inappropriately.
He said Mueller fabricated the supposed confession and was fired from his $ 150,000-a-year job in June 2013 due to a morality clause in his contract.
He said the photograph of Mueller at the meet-and-greet fueled the firing decision, along with an immediate report by Swift’s radio liaison Frank Bell that implicated Mueller.
“(Bell) said that one of my morning guys attending the meet-and-greet had grabbed Taylor on the rear inappropriately and he had been removed from the concert,” Coomer testified.
Coomer said it didn’t help when Mueller allegedly changed his story.
“It went from, ‘No possible way,’ to, ‘If I did it, it was accidental,'” he recalled. “That’s not good.”