Taylor's tears of relief as groping trial judge throws out DJ's case
A judge has dismissed a former Denver DJ's case against pop superstar Taylor Swift just before jurors were due to hear closing arguments in duelling lawsuits over whether he groped her during a meet-and-greet event and she and her team ruined his career.
US district judge William Martinez determined that Swift could not be held liable because David Mueller had not shown that she personally set out to have him fired after the pre-concert backstage photo opportunity in 2013.
But Mr Mueller's identical allegations against Swift's mother and her radio liaison will go to the jury for a verdict.
The singer-songwriter became tearful as the judge read his decision, saying there was no evidence that her actions were insincere.
Afterwards her team smiled and embraced. Mr Mueller's side did not speak.
Mr Mueller, who denies groping Swift, sued the Swifts and their radio handler Frank Bell, seeking up to three million dollars' compensation (£2.3m) for his ruined career.
Swift, 27, said in her countersuit that she wanted a symbolic dollar and the chance to stand up for other women.
With jurors outside the courtroom, lawyers on both sides had argued over whether Mr Mueller had presented enough evidence to send his full case to the jury.
Those statements and the judge's questions focused on whether Swift herself had done anything to get Mueller fired.
It came after days of evidence from the singer and others.
Swift spent an hour on the witness stand on Thursday, defiantly recounting what she called a "despicable and horrifying and shocking" encounter.
"He stayed attached to my bare ass-cheek as I lurched away from him," she said.
"It was a definite grab. A very long grab."
Swift's testy exchange with Mr Mueller's lawyer occasionally elicited chuckles, even from the six-woman, two-man jury.
She got a laugh when she said bodyguard Greg Dent saw Mr Mueller "lift my skirt" but someone would have had to have been underneath her to see the actual groping - "and we didn't have anyone positioned there".
Swift said that after the photo was taken she tried to get as far away from Mr Mueller as she could.
She said she told him and his girlfriend, who was also in the photo, "thank you for coming" in a monotone voice before they left.
She also said she was stunned and did not say anything to Mr Mueller or halt the event after he left because she did not want to disappoint several dozen people waiting in line for photos with her.
In the image, shown to jurors during opening statements but not publicly released, Mr Mueller's hand is behind Swift, just below her waist.
Mr Mueller's then-girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, is on the other side of Swift. All three are smiling.
Ms Melcher said on Friday that she saw nothing happen during the brief encounter and that she and Mr Mueller were rudely confronted and escorted out of the arena that evening.
She said Mr Mueller was devastated by the accusation.
Ms Melcher told the court she and Mr Mueller started out as co-workers at country station KYGO-FM and became romantically involved in February 2013, a few months before the concert.
They drifted apart late in 2013, but Ms Melcher said they remained friends.
Swift's lawyer Douglas Baldridge said outside court that he was proud to represent the singer, pointing to her willingness to file the countersuit against Mr Mueller.