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Judge tosses radio DJ’s claim that Taylor Swift got him fired

This file photo shows singer-songwriter Taylor Swift performing her only full concert of 2016 during the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. — AFP

A US judge on Friday dismissed claims that pop superstar Taylor Swift got a radio DJ fired, but court proceedings will continue to consider the singer’s allegations that he sexually assaulted her. David Mueller has accused Swift of slandering him to his radio station, alleging her complaint led to his unfair dismissal. Swift is counter-suing Mueller in the civil case, alleging he groped her during a 2013 “meet and greet” session with fans and invited guests before a concert.

US District Judge William Martinez agreed with Swift’s attorney, who had filed a motion asking for the pop star to be dropped from Mueller’s lawsuit, saying his case should have been against his radio station. “I agree his real problem is with the radio station,” Martinez said. Swift was very happy to hear the judge’s ruling, hugging members of her legal team.

Martinez said the eight-person jury will make a decision on Swift’s claim that she was groped. The panel will also consider allegations from Mueller that Swift’s mother and her radio manager contributed to him losing his job. Swift’s attorney Doug Baldridge had argued there was no evidence the singer herself took any action that harmed Mueller. “A man grabbed her rear end. She told her mother, and that’s it,” Baldridge said.

The singer’s mother, Andrea Swift, and Frank Bell, her radio manager who contacted the station about the incident, work for Swift’s management company, 13 Management LLC. The management company was not named in Mueller’s lawsuit. Earlier Friday, Swift’s former bodyguard testified that he witnessed the pop star’s skirt being flipped up as she posed for a photo with Mueller and his girlfriend.

“When he went to put his arm behind her, I saw her skirt go up and his hand went under there,” Greg Dent said. “I knew she was uncomfortable. I saw her push her skirt down and move away,” towards Mueller’s girlfriend, who was standing on Swift’s other side. Mueller’s lawyer Gabriel McFarland repeatedly pressed Dent on why he didn’t step in.

But Dent, who worked as Swift’s bodyguard for five years, explained that he followed the singer’s direction as she continued with the photo session. Swift, who took the stand on Thursday, testified that Mueller “stayed latched on to my bare ass cheek as I lurched away from him.” Swift’s assistants testified in depositions that as soon as the photo session ended, the singer told everyone in the room about the incident.

Dent, who stopped working with Swift after the 2013 tour, said the singer often allowed appropriate contact with fans in such meet-and-greet sessions, adding that he felt “she was far too friendly.” Mueller was fired by radio station KXGO two days after the 2013 incident and has been unable to find a job since. He was seeking $3 million in lost wages and future income from Swift. Swift has said she will donate any damages awarded in her suit to charities that fight sexual assault on women. Closing arguments are expected Monday.–AFP

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