On Friday, Taylor Swift got some good news. The Denver judge threw out part of the original lawsuit involving Taylor and DJ David Mueller. Basically, the judge said that Mueller’s lawyer had not proven that Taylor knowingly set out to destroy Mueller or ruin his career, so Taylor could not be personally sued. Mueller’s case against Andrea Swift, Taylor’s mom, is still up in the air, because Andrea Swift DID try to get Mueller fired… for good reason, because Andrea believed Taylor when Tay told her mom that Mueller sexually assaulted her. The exact moment that Taylor was (allegedly) being sexually assaulted was caught on camera. This is the photo:
Taylor Swift — The 'Sexual Assault' Photo I Wanted to Keep Secret (PHOTO) https://t.co/qT5FRZLo4T
— TMZ (@TMZ) November 12, 2016
This photo has been used as evidence on both sides. Andrea cited the photo as evidence of Taylor’s assault because of what she saw as Taylor’s discomfort, and Taylor’s body language as she angled her body away from Mueller. Mueller’s lawyer claimed that the photo proves that Mueller didn’t reach under her skirt, because the front of the skirt would have been moving (a claim that makes no sense). As it turns out, Mueller’s lawyer also made a very special douchebag argument in his closing statement about this photo too:
A lawyer for the former Denver radio DJ in the Taylor Swift grope trial pointed to a key photograph Monday in an attempt to persuade jurors that his client was innocent of fondling the “Bad Blood” songstress.
“Look at Ms. Swift’s face and ask yourself, ‘Is that the face of a person who just had a strange man grab her butt?’” attorney Gabe McFarland asked in his closing argument in a Denver federal courthouse, CNN reported. “That’s the face of someone who is taking a nice photograph.”
McFarland was referring to a picture snapped during a meet-and-greet in 2013, when his shock jock client David Mueller allegedly grabbed Swift’s bare behind as the two and another person smile and pose. Swift’s mother, Andrea Swift, touched her daughter’s right leg as Swift cried and wiped her face as he showed the picture. Her lawyer also rubbed her back.
“Not a single witness who was there gave any indication that they saw Mr. Mueller bend over or lean down to get low enough to get under Ms. Swift’s skirt,” McFarland added. Mueller sued Swift, her mother Andrea and the singer’s radio liaison Frank Bell, accusing them of getting him fired over the groping allegations. Swift – who cried during portions of closing arguments — countersued for assault and battery.
On Friday, a judge threw out the portion of Mueller’s lawsuit against Swift, saying there was insufficient evidence to prove she got him fired. Jurors will weigh whether Bell and Andrea Swift intentionally caused Mueller to be canned from his $150,000-a-year radio gig and whether Mueller assaulted or battered the “1984” crooner.
We’ve talked about the myth of the perfect victim, and how it often feels like the victims of assault and violence are the only ones questioned about their motives, their clothes, their alcohol consumption, their smiles. A woman is sexually assaulted and there is photo evidence of the assault. The photo of the assault is used against the woman because she wasn’t acting enough like a victim, the lawyer says. A perfect victim would have immediately known how to act while being assaulted, ergo Taylor Swift is not a victim of anything because she was smiling uncomfortably. That’s Mueller’s defense: if I assaulted her, how come Taylor didn’t do anything? Except she did do something: she went to her bodyguard, assistant and mother and told them what happened. Which is how we got here.
After the lawyers wrapped up their closing statements, the jury deliberated for four hours and came back with their verdict: Mueller “did assault and batter” Taylor and “Andrea Swift and Frank Bell were found not liable of tortious interference with contract.” Taylor was awarded $1, which is all she asked for, and Mueller will likely crawl back under a rock, I hope. This was her statement:
“I want to thank Judge William J. Martinez and the jury for their careful consideration. My attorneys Doug Baldridge, Danielle Foley, Jay Schaudies and Katie Wright for fighting for me and anyone who feels silenced by a sexual assault, and especially anyone who offered their support throughout this four-year ordeal and two-year long trial process.”
“I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, in society and in my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this. My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard. Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.”
Some have questioned how some of Taylor’s harshest critics can defend her about anything, and I think the answer is pretty simple: Taylor was right, she was brave to handle this situation in this way, and she likely has helped victims of assault come forward and let their voices be heard. I’ll yell about Taylor’s love life forever, but some days, I’m really proud of her. This is one of those days.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid.