An eight-person jury was seated Tuesday in Taylor Swift’s civil trial over a backstage interaction between the pop star and a Denver radio host.
The civil lawsuit centers on Swift’s allegation that former KYGO morning show host David Mueller, known professionally as “Jackson,” inappropriately touched her during a June 2013 meet-and-greet at Denver’s Pepsi Center arena. KYGO is a CNN affiliate.
In 2015 Mueller sued Swift, her mother Andrea Swift and her radio promotions director Frank Bell, claiming that the touching allegations are false. His suit argues that they pressured KYGO to fire him and that he lost his job because of the false accusations. Mueller is seeking $3 million in damages.
Swift, who was 23 at the time of the incident, countersued Mueller, accusing him of “reaching under her dress and grabbing her bottom” as they posed for a photo. Her suit argues that KYGO terminated Mueller after its own independent investigation.
Opening statements were expected to begin Tuesday morning local time.
The photo of that meet-and-greet will be a central piece of evidence in the trial. Judge William Martinez granted Swift’s request to seal the photo until the trial on the grounds that it could prejudice jurors, but it was leaked in 2016.
Swift, her mother and Bell are expected to testify. In addition, Lorrane Bayard de Volo, an associate professor from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Department of Women and Gender Studies, is expected to offer expert testimony on the ramifications of sexual assault and harassment.
Taylor Swift’s counter-lawsuit argues that the case will “serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.” Her suit also claims that any money recovered from the case will be donated to charitable organizations dedicated to protecting women from acts of sexual assault.
Court braces for Swift fans
Jury selection began on Monday and continued into Tuesday. The jury questionnaire asked potential jurors several questions about their personal opinions on Swift.
“Do you have any opinion of singer Taylor Swift?” jurors were asked. “Have you ever considered yourself a fan of Taylor Swift?”
“Is anyone in your immediate family a fan of Taylor Swift?” another jury question asked.
Jurors were also asked about their experiences with inappropriate touching. One juror said he had friends who claimed to have experiences of being inappropriately touched, and another said his wife runs “women’s empowerment workshops.”
Mueller’s attorney argued that Swift had made the case into “a crusade for women’s issues,” stretching it beyond the incident in question.
To accommodate Swift’s fans and other onlookers, the court designated 32 seats in the courtroom for the public. Outside the courthouse, a modest number of Swift fans lined up Tuesday for a seat in the courtroom and a glimpse at the star.
Ed Le, 50, and Vega Zaringlee, 10, were visiting from Seattle. Le said it was an “awesome coincidence” their family trip was at the same time as Swift’s trial.
“It’s been an awesome civics lesson for her and also supporting her fandom of Taylor,” Le said.
Zaringlee agreed, saying she loved that Swift was trying to make a point with her countersuit. “She just wants it to be a point that women need to stand up for themselves,” Zaringlee said.
Jacquelyn Evans, a 32-year-old from Denver, said she was a huge Taylor Swift fan and admired the star for showing up at the trial.
“I think it’s pretty cool that she’s here to defend herself in person and not just kind of passing it off,” she said. “It shows that it’s a serious issue to her and it’s a really great experience for girls to see her come out and do that.”