Update: Last month, a judge sealed a photo of singer Taylor Swift and former Denver DJ David Mueller at the request of lawyers representing the pair, who are currently locked in legal combat. Mueller sued Swift on the allegation that she had caused his firing by falsely accusing him of inappropriately touching her during a photo prior to a 2013 Denver-area concert; she countersued, maintaining that he had indeed grabbed her bottom as the pic was being snapped. See our previous coverage below.
Now, TMZ has obtained a copy of the photo, which Swift had described in a deposition as showing how Mueller "reached up under my skirt and grabbed my ass right when I was having to pose for a photo."
The image is above. As you can see, it shows Mueller's hand behind Swift in the direct vicinity of her posterior.
Expect attorneys to spin the image as either definitive proof that Mueller violated Swift or too ambiguous to undermine Mueller's case, depending upon which client they represent.
Continue for our previous coverage.
Photo by Eric Gruneisen
Update 7:55 a.m. October 24: The judge overseeing dueling lawsuits between singer Taylor Swift and former Denver DJ David Mueller has agreed to seal a photograph described as sensitive in a joint motion from both parties; see our previous coverage below.
However, a request to restrict access to other documents in the case was rejected. This ruling allowed Billboard, a music-industry publication, to obtain a transcript of a video deposition given by Swift in response to the Mueller suit. In the document, the onetime KYGO personality claims the singer's false accusation that he touched her inappropriately during a pre-concert meet-and-greet at the Pepsi Center in June 2013 led to his firing; Swift counter-sued, accusing Mueller of assaulting her.
During the interview, Swift denied that she could have been mistaken about who had grabbed her butt prior to the Pepsi Center show. (Mueller speculates that KYGO program director Eddie Haskell, who hugged Swift that evening, may have been responsible.) An excerpt reads: “Right as the moment came for us to pose for the photo, he took his hand and put it up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek, and no matter how much I scooted over, it was still there.”
As such, Swift scoffs at the idea that the contact could have been accidental. "It was completely intentional, I've never been so sure of anything in my life," she said during the deposition.
Swift added: “I remember being frantic, distressed, feeling violated in a way I had never experienced before.... A meet-and-greet is supposed to be a situation where you’re thanking people for coming, you’re supposed to be welcoming people into your home, which is the arena for that day, and for someone to violate that hospitality in that way, I was completely stunned.”
By the way, Swift has said that if she wins the suit, she'll donate any money she receives to organizations that fight against sexual assault. See our previous coverage below.
Update, 5:42 a.m. October 20: In September 2015, David Mueller, once a popular Denver DJ who broadcast on KYGO under the name Jackson, sued music superstar Taylor Swift for allegedly getting him fired from the station by claiming — falsely, he says — that he'd groped her during a brief pre-concert encounter in 2013. Muller's suit, on view below, mentions inquiries made about the incident by yours truly and Westword in an apparent effort to prove that rumors surrounding his sacking hurt his ability to get hired by a new station. See our previous coverage below.
The next month, Swift countersued Mueller — and in the year since then, the case has continued to progress through the justice system. But the latest development finds these two legal opponents agreeing on something. In a joint motion also shared here, attorneys for both parties ask that the judge in the case seal supporting documents in the case filed in relation to a motion for summary judgment on behalf of Swift and her co-defendants: Frank Bell, Andrea Swift and five parties referred to as John Does. That includes "photographic evidence of the incident" that is sensitive in nature and would undoubtedly be shared for "scandalous and prurient interests."
From the beginning, it was clear that some type of photo of Mueller and Swift on the night and place in question — May 30, 2013, at the Pepsi Center — had been taken.
The original Mueller lawsuit reveals that the DJ and his on-air partner, Ryan Kliesch, aka Ryno, had been told by KYGO program director Eddie Haskell to meet-and-greet Swift. They did so in the company of their significant others: Mueller's girlfriend and co-worker, Shannon Melcher, and Ryno's wife, Alycia.
Melcher was posing for a pic with Swift when Mueller "jumped into the photograph at the last second," the lawsuit states — after which Swift went on her way. But a short time later, a member of Swift's security team "accused Mr. Mueller of grabbing Ms. Swift's bottom while he and Ms. Melcher were being photographed with Ms. Swift."
Mueller insists he did nothing of the sort and floats the possibility that Swift's posterior had actually been grabbed inadvertently by program director Haskell when the singer had given him a hug. In her countersuit, Swift denies this theory in the following passage: "Ms. Swift knows exactly who committed the assault — it was Mueller — and she is not confused in the slightest about whether her long-term business acquaintance, Mr. Haskell, was the culprit."
The new joint motion argues that "supporting documents" in the case "include confidential and private evidence regarding the events underlying Plaintiff’s claims and Ms. Swift’s Counterclaim for assault." The document adds that since "there is substantial media attention to this case," public disclosure of this material "runs the real risk of tainting the jury through media coverage and discussion of the evidence. The public dissemination of this evidence will likely have nothing to do with the public’s interest in the Court’s decision making process. Rather, it will be driven by the prurient interests related to the facts alleged in this case. The public dissemination of the allegations against Mr. Mueller and the resulting invasion of the Parties’ privacy is neither necessary nor of legitimate public interest."
As for the photo, labeled "Exhibit 14," the joint motion describes it as being "extremely personal and sensitive in nature" and states that "It should not be shared with the public until absolutely necessary (at trial)." The document maintains that "it is all but assured that the photograph will be shared for scandalous and prurient interests" that would violate Swift's privacy and could potentially sway a jury.
Continue to see the joint motion in its entirety, followed by our previous coverage.
Original post, 6:38 a.m. September 16, 2015: The lawsuit filed against superstar Taylor Swift by David Mueller, a DJ known as Jackson during his days on the air at popular country-music broadcaster KYGO, is certainly unusual.
After all, Mueller's complaint, included in its entirety below, blames Swift, her mom and numerous employees for getting him fired at KYGO in 2013 after falsely claiming that he'd put his hand on her ass.
But there's also a personal twist.
Turns out that yours truly is mentioned by name in the suit, as is Westword — a previously unreported angle that pivots on rumors that circulated in the wake of Swift's tour de force performance at the Pepsi Center two years ago.
Taylor Swift at the Pepsi Center on June 2, 2013, the day the alleged incident at the heart of the lawsuit took place.
Photo by Eric Gruneisen
As noted in the document, Mueller had more than two decades of experience in the radio industry, working at stations in San Diego, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Columbus, Ohio, before landing at KYGO in Denver circa January 2013 — and as part of these gigs, he took part in publicity-generating grip-and-grins with a slew of celebs.
Specifically cited are Sheryl Crow, Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Heidi Klum, Fergie, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Lopez. We're guessing the all-female list is included to stress that he'd previously been in close proximity to some of the most famous booties on the planet and had never been accused of digging his fingers into any of them.
Cut to May 30, 2013, when KYGO program director Eddie Haskell informed Mueller that he and his on-air partner, Ryan Kliesch, better known as Ryno, would be meeting and greeting Swift at the Pepsi Center prior to her June 2 Pepsi Center concert.
Approved to accompany them were Mueller's girlfriend and co-worker, Shannon Melcher, and Ryno's wife, Alycia.
When Mueller and Melcher arrived at the arena, the suit continues, the Kliesches and Haskell were already backstage. The two were led to a curtained-off area, where they waited for Swift along with fans who'd won a contest to bask in the songstress's presence.
During their turn with Swift, Mueller is said to have "complimented Ms. Swift on her patience and sincerity with her fans," while Melcher told her that "she had enjoyed watching the little girls dance and sing while waiting in line," and that Ms. Swift was a great role model.
"Ms. Swift then complimented Ms. Melcher on the belt she was wearing," the suit goes on.
Mueller was standing a few feet from Swift at this point, but when the singer and Melcher began posing for a pic, he "jumped into the photograph at the last second," the complaint states. Afterward, "Ms. Swift cordially thanked Mr. Mueller and Ms. Melcher for their visit. Ms. Swift gave Ms. Melcher a hug and shook Mr. Mueller's hand." As they departed, one of her minions handed them autographed Taylor head shots and a code to download the photo from Swift's website.
Afterward, Mueller ran into Haskell, who allegedly told him that when Swift had seen him earlier, she'd yelled out, "Eddie!" and given him a hug that he'd reciprocated by putting his "hands on her bottom," the lawsuit states. The document adds that Haskell "explained that he and one of his friends in the industry think Ms. Swift must wear bicycle shorts under her stage outfits."
At first, this passage seems like a non sequitur — but not for long.
A short time later, a member of Swift's security team identified as Craig came up to Mueller and asked, "Do you want to tell me what happened earlier tonight?" — and after Mueller said he didn't know what he meant, the staffer "accused Mr. Mueller of grabbing Ms. Swift's bottom while he and Ms. Melcher were being photographed with Ms. Swift." Mueller immediately denied any wrongdoing, and Melcher also defended him, the suit says. Additionally, Mueller is quoted as recommending that Craig contact the police and Haskell — requests that were allegedly ignored.
Instead, "security personnel and other members of Ms. Swift's staff surrounded Mr. Mueller and Ms. Melcher, verbally abused them, and told them that Ms. Swift did not want them to attend her concert," after which the pair were escorted out of the building.
Later, Frank Bell, a member of Swift's management team, is said to have shown Haskell the photo taken earlier and asked him to identify Mueller. Once Haskell did, Bell is quoted as announcing that Mueller and Melcher were banned for life from Swift concerts and declaring that the incident reflected poorly on KYGO.
Taylor Swift at the Pepsi Center, June 2, 2013.
Photo by Eric Gruneisen
Haskell subsequently left Mueller a voicemail saying the DJ wouldn't appear on the air the following Monday pending a radio-station investigation of the incident. The suit also maintains that Haskell was contacted by Scott Borchetta, president of Swift's label, Big Machine. Amid complaints about the situation, Borchetta allegedly maintained that Swift's mother "was livid."
The next morning, June 3, Bell called KYGO's general manager, Bob Call. An excerpt from this part of the suit reads:
Mr. Bell repeated Ms. Swift's charge of inappropriate physical contact by Mr. Mueller, specifically that Mr. Mueller had lifted Ms. Swift's skirt with his hand and grabbed her bottom. Mr. Bell told Mr. Call that Ms. Swift, her parents, and her staff were very upset. Mr. Bell threatened KYGO "could be gravely impacted" by the incident. Mr. Bell indicated he would forward the subject photograph to Mr. Call and commented that the photo would be "damning."
Unfortunately, the photo isn't included in the lawsuit, and it hasn't surfaced to date. But the suit maintains that not only isn't the pic damning, but it may partly exonerate Mueller. While his hand can't be seen in the shot, there's no indication that Swift's skirt had been lifted.
Nonetheless, the document states that after learning from Bell that "the Swifts 'were considering their options' if KYGO did not 'handle' Mr. Mueller," Call terminated the DJ's contract.
That's the point at which I enter the story. Here's the paragraph in question, complete with a misspelling of Westword:
On June 10, 2013, Mr. Call received a telephone call from a Westward newspaper reporter, Michael Roberts, seeking information about Mr. Mueller's termination. Although Mr. Call declined to comment, Mr. Roberts referenced Ms. Swift and "touching" and clearly suggested he had information about the allegations against Mr. Mueller.
Taylor Swift at the Pepsi Center, June 2, 2013.
Photo by Eric Gruneisen
How Mueller and his legal team know that I phoned Bob Call is unknown to me; I can only guess that Mueller had a secret squirrel at the station who filled him in about the conversation, in addition to other chats mentioned in the suit to which he wasn't a party. But here's what happened from my perspective.
Following the Swift concert, I received an anonymous tip via e-mail, if I recall correctly. In it, the author stated that Mueller had been fired after being accused of inappropriately touching Swift prior to the concert.
I subsequently reached out to a number of sources in the radio industry. My memory is that one or two of them had heard about the episode, too, but didn't have direct information about what happened. I also tried to track down Mueller, but was unsuccessful — and Call did indeed offer a "no comment" about what had happened, as is common in matters involving personnel. As a result, I didn't feel I had enough firm information to move forward with a story. Westword has published nothing about the incident until now.
Hard to tell why this material was included in the lawsuit. I can only speculate that my inquiry is being used as an example of how Mueller's reputation was harmed by rumors about why he'd been fired from a position that paid him, according to the document, $150,000 per annum.
Whatever the case, the lawsuit says that Mueller took and passed a pair of lie-detector tests about the alleged ass-grabbing the following December. "Mr. Mueller invited Ms. Swift to undergo a similar polygraph examination," the suit states. "She declined."
There's no telling if anything will come of Mueller's lawsuit beyond the initial rush of publicity — but given Swift's power and the difficulty in proving that her representatives directly demanded that Mueller be canned, it's got to be considered a long shot. If it does come to trial, though, there's no need to subpoena me. You now know everything I do.
Here's the lawsuit.
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