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Jury Rules In Favor Of Taylor Swift In Groping Lawsuit


A jury has ruled in favor of pop superstar Taylor Swift in a high-profile case in Denver. A radio DJ sued Taylor Swift, her mother and her manager for falsely accusing him of assault and getting him fired from his job. Swift countersued for a dollar, saying the DJ put his hand up her skirt and groped her during a photo op. The case got attention from advocates of survivors of sexual assault, who are praising Swift's frank and unapologetic stand. A language warning here for listeners as we recount some of that testimony.

NPR's Leila Fadel is outside the court and joins us now from Denver. And, Leila, this seems like a pretty quick verdict from this jury. Remind us the details of this case.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Well, David Mueller, a radio disc jockey here in Denver, was suing Taylor Swift, her mother and her manager for radio, Frank Bell, saying that he was falsely accused of groping Swift, and he lost his job over that. Taylor Swift was dismissed from the case as a defendant on Friday. The judge said there was insufficient evidence that she acted improperly when making that accusation.

So today he lost his case with defendants being her mother and her manager. He was suing for $2.98 million in damages. Meanwhile, the countersuit by Taylor Swift in which she sued Mueller for just $1 for assault and battery, the jury found that she was in fact assaulted and she suffered battery. And she got that $1.

CORNISH: Now, Taylor Swift did take the stand last week. Her testimony was widely recounted in the press. Talk about what she had to say and why it resonated.

FADEL: Yeah, you know, her cross-examination really got the attention of advocates for survivors of sexual assault. And they said that it got their attention because she was unapologetic. She was consistent. And she really refused to be shamed, even at one point looking at the lawyer and said, I'm going to - I refuse to make this about me, that this is not my fault.

You know, she had some pretty strong language during her cross-examination. When it was suggested that Mueller might have touched her somewhere else unintentionally by his lawyer, she said, no, he did not touch my rib. He did not touch my hand. He touched my bare ass. Now, that's a direct quote. And she used that word several times in court.

In another instance, Mueller's lawyer asked why she wasn't critical of her bodyguard for not keeping Mueller away from her. And her answer again was, I'm critical of your client for sticking his hand up my skirt. And that is what advocates looked at, saying she was really refusing to be shamed in court where victims, they say, are often retraumatized.

CORNISH: At the same time, I know that the DJ suing Taylor Swift, the defense, talked about her not reporting this to police.

FADEL: You know, two-thirds of sexual assaults are not reported to police according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. And this was kept quiet. This happened in 2013. A 51-year-old man allegedly groped her under her skirt when she was 23. And he was quietly fired. And that's why he sued. This came into the limelight because David Mueller sued. And her mother on the stand last week cried about that. She said that she had wanted to not revictimize her daughter.

And that is also a mainstay of the case and what the lawyer said who is representing Taylor Swift, saying that she was being revictimized. And just now after the verdict, he said that today something good happened, that the dollar that she countersued for was symbolic of all victims who have not been able to speak out.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Leila Fadel reporting on the case from Denver. Leila, thank you.

FADEL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.