Beyond that, Ms. Swift said after the verdict that she now would be donating an unspecified amount to organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.
“I acknowledge” she said in a statement, “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.”
The verdict came on the first day of deliberations after closing arguments in which the two sides presented widely divergent views of what happened during the backstage meet-and-greet.
Ms. Swift was dropped from Mr. Mueller’s case on Friday, after the judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to suggest she had simply made up the encounter. Her countersuit continued as did Mr. Mueller’s suit against her mother and a member of her management team who were accused of unduly influencing the Denver radio station KYGO to fire Mr. Mueller. The manager, Frank Bell, had approached the station after Ms. Swift told them he had lifted her skirt and grabbed her rear while posing with her.
On Monday, as the case resumed in United States District Court here, jurors were not told of Friday’s developments and were offered no explanation as to why the number of defendants in the initial suit had dropped from three to two. In its finding, the jury said it also had decided that Ms. Swift’s mother and manager had not interfered with Mr. Mueller’s contract to get him fired.
In closing arguments, Mr. Mueller’s lawyer, Gabriel McFarland, had repeated his client’s denials, questioned the credibility of witnesses who corroborated Ms. Swift’s account and said her actions during and after the photo session were not consistent with someone who had been assaulted.
In particular, he asked the jurors to review an image of the encounter, one that showed Mr. Mueller’s hand behind Ms. Swift and near her rear. Others have said Ms. Swift moved away from Mr. Mueller in reaction to inappropriate contact but Mr. McFarland asked whether Ms. Swift’s face in that instance was consistent with someone who had been groped.
Ms. Swift, who had testified to being too stunned to react and then concerned with not creating a scene in front of fans, slowly turned as she listened to Mr. McFarland’s arguments from facing him to facing her mother, who sat next to her.
While Mr. McFarland urged the jury to focus on his client’s desire to clear his name and to recoup about $260,000 in lost wages, Mr. Baldridge portrayed the stakes as much higher. Mr. Baldridge said the question before the jury was: “Will aggressors like David Mueller be allowed to victimize the victim?”
“Is the victimization going to result in that guy getting a payday?” he said, gesturing toward Mr. Mueller, who sat expressionless, facing the jurors with his hands folded on the table in front of him.
Describing Mr. Mueller as a “story-changing, evidence-destroying aggressor,” the lawyer quoted the radio host as testifying that he did not touch Ms. Swift inappropriately but that if he had touched her in a way she found offensive, it was inadvertent.
In his lawsuit, Mr. Mueller for the first time mentioned that his immediate supervisor at the station had said he placed his hands on Ms. Swift’s bottom, an account Mr. Baldridge portrayed as an attempt to take revenge on the manager.
Mr. Baldridge also noted that Mr. Mueller acknowledged having spilled coffee on a computer on which he had stored a secret recording of a conversation with his employers about Ms. Swift’s allegations, destroying the evidence.
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