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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Taylor Swift in court to watch jury selection for DJ groping trial

Pop star looked on as candidates were quizzed over their suitability for the case

Members of the public wait to attend the jury selection phase in a civil trial to determine whether a radio host groped pop singer Taylor Swift as the case opens in federal court
Members of the public wait to attend the jury selection phase in a civil trial to determine whether a radio host groped pop singer Taylor Swift as the case opens in federal court

U.S. pop star Taylor Swift was in court as jury selection began for a civil trial which will see her go head to head with radio host accused of groping her.

The singer looked on as potential jurors in her lawsuit against an ex-Denver radio host were asked if they had ever been inappropriately touched or wrongly accused of groping someone — the issues at the centre of the case.

As the selection began for the opposing lawsuits, a 15-page questionnaire asked candidates if they had seen any pictures related to the case — a possible reference to a photo that shows DJ David Mueller with his right hand behind the pop superstar, just below her waist, before a 2013 concert in Denver.

Swift claims Mueller grabbed her on the buttock during a meet-and-greet photo session at the show. Her lawyers have called the photo "damning" proof that Mueller groped her.

However, Mueller — who also attended jury selection — denies the allegation and says the photo only shows him trying to jump into the frame. Swift and Mueller are both smiling in the picture.

In his lawsuit, Mueller claims he was fired from his job at a country music station after Taylor's team wrongfully told his boss that Mueller had groped the singer-songwriter.

He is seeking at least $3 million in damages.

Swift appeared in court in a white dress and black jacket, even though she and Mueller were not required to attend until the actual trial begins.

Her countersuit against Mueller claims sexual assault.

Potential jurors were asked whether they are fans of either Mueller or Swift, including if they had ever seen Swift in concert, downloaded or purchased her music, or attended the 2013 concert.

The jury questionnaire says anyone who is uncomfortable with discussing any instances of inappropriate touching can speak to the judge in private.

The final, eight-member jury will be chosen from a pool of 60 candidates, court spokesman Jeff Colwell said. There will be no alternates.

The selection process could last throughout Tuesday, with opening statements to follow.

One juror has already been dismissed over his answer to the question: "In a lawsuit between David Mueller and Taylor Swift would you have bias for or against either Taylor Swift or David Mueller?"

The potential juror answered: "She seems petty and spiteful."

The case is being heard in federal court because Swift and Mueller live in different states — Swift in Nashville, Tennessee, Mueller in Colorado — and the damages at stake exceed $75,000.

The trial is expected to last about two weeks. Court documents say it is unlikely that either side will settle.

Swift and Mueller are both expected to testify, along with Mueller's former boss and members of Swift's entourage.

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