Taylor was named one of Time’s people of the year for her bravery in fighting a sexual assault lawsuit.
Taylor Swift was named one of Time’s people of the year for her bravery in fighting a sexual assault lawsuit.
Swift has not given any interviews this year up until now. She’s letting her Reputation, err… the music do the talking. That is, until Time asked her to open up about her experience fighting a lawsuit filed by a Colorado radio DJ named David Mueller who claimed Swift used her immense fame and influence to get him fired from his lucrative radio job. She argues that he grabbed her butt during a meet and greet several years ago and had no choice but to hold him accountable. Mueller denies the accusation.
Swift was applauded for her straightforward testimony. Per Time, when the singer was asked why the pictures taken during the assault “didn’t show the front of her skirt wrinkled as evidence of any wrongdoing,” she said simply, “Because my ass is located at the back of my body.” Swift was also asked if she felt guilty for Mueller losing his job. “I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault. Here we are years later, and I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are the product of his decisions—not mine.”
It’s worth noting Taylor’s case lit up the Internet before the Harvey Weinstein allegations broke, and before #MeToo swept the Internet.
Read her new interview below:
Why was it important for you to come forward about what happened to you?
In 2013, I met a DJ from a prominent country radio station in one of my pre-show meet and greets. When we were posing for the photo, he stuck his hand up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek. I squirmed and lurched sideways to get away from him, but he wouldn’t let go. At the time, I was headlining a major arena tour and there were a number of people in the room that saw this plus a photo of it happening. I figured that if he would be brazen enough to assault me under these risky circumstances and high stakes, imagine what he might do to a vulnerable, young artist if given the chance. It was important to report the incident to his radio station because I felt like they needed to know. The radio station conducted its own investigation and fired him. Two years later, he sued me.
How did you feel when you testified?
When I testified, I had already been in court all week and had to watch this man’s attorney bully, badger and harass my team including my mother over inane details and ridiculous minutiae, accusing them, and me, of lying. My mom was so upset after her cross-examination, she was physically too ill to come to court the day I was on the stand. I was angry. In that moment, I decided to forego any courtroom formalities and just answer the questions the way it happened. This man hadn’t considered any formalities when he assaulted me, and his lawyer didn’t hold back on my mom—why should I be polite? I’m told it was the most amount of times the word “ass” has ever been said in Colorado Federal Court.
How have people responded to your story?
People have been largely very supportive of my story since the trial began in August, but before that, I spent two years reading headlines referring to it as “The Taylor Swift Butt Grab Case” with internet trolls making a joke about what happened to me. The details were all skewed, as they often are. Most people thought I was suing him. There was an audible gasp in the courtroom when I was named as the defendant. Once it hit the news that I was in Denver dealing with this, there was an outpouring of support on social media and I have never appreciated it more. I spoke to Kesha on the phone and it really helped to talk to someone who had been through the demoralizing court process.
After this experience, what advice would you give to your fans?
I would tell people who find themselves in this situation that there is a great deal of blame placed on the victims in cases of sexual harassment and assault. You could be blamed for the fact that it happened, for reporting it and blamed for how you reacted. You might be made to feel like you’re overreacting, because society has made this stuff seem so casual. My advice is that you not blame yourself and do not accept the blame others will try to place on you. You should not be blamed for waiting 15 minutes or 15 days or 15 years to report sexual assault or harassment, or for the outcome of what happens to a person after he or she makes the choice to sexually harass or assault you.
Is this a watershed moment for the way we think about sexual assault and harassment in culture?
I think that this moment is important for awareness, for how parents are talking to their children, and how victims are processing their trauma, whether it be new or old. The brave women and men who have come forward this year have all moved the needle in terms of letting people know that this abuse of power shouldn’t be tolerated. Going to court to confront this type of behavior is a lonely and draining experience, even when you win, even when you have the financial ability to defend yourself. Even though awareness is higher than ever about workplace sexual harassment, there are still so many people who feel victimized, afraid and silenced by their abusers and circumstances. When the jury found in my favor, the man who sexually assaulted me was court-ordered to give me a symbolic $1. To this day he has not paid me that dollar, and I think that act of defiance is symbolic in itself.