US pop star Taylor Swift has won $US1 and long-awaited vindication after a jury decided in a civil trial that a radio host groped her during a pre-concert photo op four years ago.
After a week-long trial over duelling lawsuits, jurors determined that sacked Denver DJ David Mueller assaulted Swift by grabbing her backside during a backstage meet-and-greet.
After the verdict was handed down Swift hugged her crying mother, reiterating her desire to stand up for other women.
“My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard,” Swift said in a statement.
“Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.”
The six-woman, two-man jury also found that Swift’s mother and radio liaison were within their rights to contact Mueller’s employer about the groping.
Mueller sued the Swifts and their radio handler, Frank Bell, seeking up to $US3 million ($A3.8 million) for his ruined career. On Friday, the judge dismissed Taylor Swift from Mueller’s lawsuit, saying he failed to prove that she sought to have him sacked or had any reason to believe that someone else may have assaulted her.
“I’ve been trying to clear my name for four years,” Mueller said after the verdict.
“Civil court is the only option I had. This is the only way that I could be heard.”
The singer-songwriter said in her countersuit that she wanted a symbolic $US1.
Swift’s side have always portrayed the encounter as sexual assault despite not reporting it to police. Swift’s mother testified that she asked Bell to reach out to Mueller’s employer to avoid exposing the singer-songwriter to publicity.
Bell contacted a station vice president and sought an investigation into Mueller. He also sent the station executive the photo in question of Swift, Mueller and Mueller’s then-girlfriend at the meet-and-greet.
In her testimony last week, Swift blasted a low-key characterisation by Mueller’s lawyer, Gabriel McFarland, of what happened. Mueller testified he never grabbed Swift, but she insisted she was groped.
“He stayed attached to my bare ass-cheek as I lurched away from him,” Swift testified.
“It was a definite grab. A very long grab,” she added.
Mueller emphatically denied reaching under Swift’s skirt or touching her inappropriately, and said he only toucher her ribs and may have brushed the outside of her skirt.
The photo shows Mueller’s hand is behind Swift, just below her waist. Both are smiling. Mueller’s then-girlfriend is standing on the other side of Swift. The jury saw the image but it was never publicly released.
Swift testified that after she was groped, she numbly thanked Mueller and his girlfriend before moving onto others waiting in line.
But she said she immediately after the media op was over she went to her photographer, retrieved the image and said what had just happened.