DENVER (AP) – An attorney for a former radio DJ told jurors Tuesday that inappropriate touching is wrong but falsely accusing someone of the offense is equally unacceptable.
Attorney Gabriel McFarland made the comment during his opening statement at the civil trial involving a groping claim by Taylor Swift against David Mueller.
Swift says Mueller grabbed her before a 2013 concert. He denies the allegation and says he was fired after representatives of Swift made the claim to his boss at a radio station.
“Let’s be clear about something from the onset – inappropriate touching is offensive, it’s wrong and should never be tolerated,” McFarland told jurors.
“Let’s also be clear that falsely accusing someone of inappropriate touching is equally offensive, it’s wrong and should not be tolerated,” he said.
Swift claims Mueller grabbed her on the buttock during a backstage meet-and-greet at the show. A photograph obtained by TMZ but sealed by the court shows Mueller with his hand behind Swift, just below her waist, at the event.
Her lawyers have called the photo “damning” proof that Mueller groped her.
Mueller says the photo only shows him trying to jump into the frame. Swift and Mueller are both smiling in the picture.
Potential jurors were asked about everything from whether they or their relatives had ever been inappropriately touched or wrongfully accused of groping someone to whether, and to what degree, they were fans of Swift.
One man who ultimately was not selected told U.S. District Judge William Martinez on Tuesday that he was not necessarily a fan, “but her music is catchy and it’s good vibes.” The judge laughed and said, “very good.”
The case is being heard in federal court because Swift and Mueller live in different states – Swift in Nashville, Tennessee, Mueller in Colorado – and damages at stake exceed $75,000.
The trial is expected to last about two weeks.
Swift is seeking a verdict that awards her $1 to hold Mueller responsible and serve “as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts,” her lawsuit says.
Swift and Mueller are both expected to testify, along with Mueller’s former boss and members of Swift’s entourage.
About a dozen fans lined up outside the courthouse, including three high school students who showed up before dawn, for a pass allowing them inside to watch the civil trial.
“I love how she’s suing him for $1 because she doesn’t need the money but she wants to make it a point that women don’t need to take this,” said Vega Zaringlee, 12.
Associated Press writers James Anderson and P. Solomon Banda contributed to this report.