DENVER (AP) - A few moments at a backstage photo session four years ago are about to be relived, as lawyers for pop star Taylor Swift and a former disc jockey she accuses of groping her begin picking jurors in their dueling lawsuits.
Radio host David Mueller sued the singer-songwriter, saying he was falsely accused and that she should have called police instead of his bosses, who fired him soon after the June 2013 encounter. He's seeking up to $3 million in damages.
Swift countersued, claiming sexual assault, setting up the civil trial where she is expected to testify amid tightened courthouse security.
Jury selection is to start on Monday. Opening statements were expected to begin Tuesday in the case that could last two weeks. Court documents say it is unlikely that either side will settle.
Swift is seeking a verdict that awards her $1, while holding Mueller responsible and "serving as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts," her lawsuit says.
Swift is expected to testify. Mueller is also expected to testify, along with Mueller's former boss and members of Swift's entourage.
Mueller, then 51, was a morning host at a country music station when he was assigned to attend Swift's concert at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Mueller was backstage with his girlfriend when they met with Swift, then 23, in a curtained enclosure. They posed for a photo and left.
Later, Swift's bodyguard confronted Mueller with the allegation that he had reached under the singer's dress and grabbed her buttocks.
Mueller denied the allegation and asked that they call the police. He and his girlfriend were escorted out of the arena and a member of Swift's team called his boss.
Swift never went to the police. She tried to keep the situation "discreet and quiet and confidential" and was upset by Mueller's claim that "for some reason she might have some incentive to actually fabricate this story," her attorney, Douglas Baldridge, has argued in court.
Mueller's attorney, Gabriel McFarland, argues that Mueller may have been misidentified after someone else touched Swift.
In addition to Swift, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, Mueller named her mother and a member of her team as defendants in the lawsuit.
Jurors deciding whether a radio host groped Taylor Swift during a photo op - and whether she and her team got him fired - will have to determine not just whose story to believe but what to make of a photograph that both sides say proves their case.
The photo shows David Mueller with his right hand behind the singer, just below her waist, before a 2013 concert. It's inconclusive whether he's touching her. Both are smiling.
Based on court records, here's a look at that and other key elements in the he-said, she-said civil trial that begins Monday in federal court in Denver.
Swift's lawyers called the image "damning" proof that Mueller inappropriately touched her. Mueller argues it shows him trying to jump into the frame.
Entertainment news outlet TMZ obtained and published the photo, which has since been sealed by the court.
Swift's business manager, Jesse Schaudies Jr., said her side did not want the picture in the news.
"We did not want copycats and one-uppers abounding. And that happens in our world," he testified last year. "These people all tend to escalate. I've watched what happens with these files and individuals."
Swift says: "He took his hand and put it up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek."
Immediately after the meet-and-greet, Swift says, she confirmed the assault with a photographer and security staff, who then confronted Mueller.
Mueller says he told the security staff: "Please call the police. I didn't do anything."
Swift's security guard was about 3 feet (about 1 meter) away during the meet-and-greet, Mueller says. Swift remained pleasant as she bid Mueller and his girlfriend goodbye, he says, and more than a dozen people met with Swift after Mueller left.
Swift said: "It was not an accident. It was completely intentional, and I have never been so sure of anything in my life."
A member of Swift's staff called Mueller's boss at radio station KYGO and asked that the station "take appropriate action."
Swift maintains she was sexually assaulted, but she was trying to keep the matter discreet and quiet. She says she does not know Mueller and has no incentive to target him or to fabricate a story.
Mueller's boss said the DJ told him during an internal investigation that any contact during the photo op was incidental or accidental.
OTHER KEY WITNESSES
- Andrea Swift, the singer's mother, will testify about the decision to contact Mueller's boss and not call the police.
- Frank Bell, a member of the singer's team, will testify about why he contacted Mueller's bosses at KYGO and what was said. Bell and Andrea Swift are also defendants in Mueller's lawsuit.
- Shannon Melcher, Mueller's girlfriend at the time, will testify about standing on the other side of Swift when the photo was taken, and to Mueller's character.
- Greg Dent, Swift's bodyguard, may be called to testify about what he saw during the encounter.