For­mer host sanc­tioned

“Jack­son” sued Tay­lor Swift af­ter 2013 grop­ing ac­cu­sa­tions

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Kirk Mitchell

A fed­eral judge has sanc­tioned a for­mer Den­ver ra­dio host, who sued Tay­lor Swift af­ter she ac­cused him of grop­ing her at con­cert.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Wil­liam Martinez ruled Wed­nes­day that Swift’s at­tor­neys will be al­lowed to ques­tion David “Jack­son” Mueller about a two-hour au­dio record­ing he sur­rep­ti­tiously taped dur­ing an in­ter­view with his boss the day be­fore he was fired. The record­ing was lost when Mueller later de­stroyed or threw away four elec­tronic de­vices.

Mueller sued Swift in Septem­ber 2015 claim­ing the mu­sic su­per­star “falsely” ac­cused him of lift­ing her skirt and grop­ing her be­fore a June 2013 Den­ver con­cert. Swift coun­ter­sued in October 2015 say­ing Mueller waited “un­rea­son­ably” long to file his suit and said “Mueller did not merely brush his hand against Ms. Swift while pos­ing for the pho­to­graph: he lifted her skirt and groped her.”

Martinez said he could have lev­eled harsher sanc­tions against Mueller in­clud­ing strik­ing part of the ev­i­dence, if the judge con­cluded that Mueller in­ten­tion­ally de­stroyed the de­vices or couldn’t lo­cate them.

Martinez said the record­ing is crit­i­cal ev­i­dence be­cause Mueller’s KYGO boss, Robert Call, claims Mueller changed his story when he con­fronted him about Swift’s claim that he as­saulted her. That was one of the de­cid­ing fac­tors that Call re­lied on in his de­ci­sion to fire Mueller on June 4, 2013.

“Call ex­plained that one rea­son for Plain­tiff’s ter­mi­na­tion was be­cause Call per­ceived Plain­tiff had ‘changed his story that it couldn’t have oc­curred, then that it was in­ci­den­tal,’ ” Martinez wrote.

Mueller recorded the con­ver­sa­tion on his cell phone and trans­ferred it to his lap­top and of­fice com­puter, ac­cord­ing to Martinez’s 16page rul­ing. Mueller later gave snip­pets of the twohour con­ver­sa­tion that bol­stered his claims to his at­tor­ney.

Mueller ad­mits de­stroy­ing or los­ing the cell phone, lap­top, iPad and com­puter for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons in­clud­ing that he spilled cof­fee on his lap­top’s key­board. “It was fried,” Mueller said. But he also ac­knowl­edged the record­ing would have been im­por­tant ev­i­dence in the case.

Al­though Martinez re­ferred to Mueller’s “se­rial na­ture of (his) loss of elec­tronic de­vices,” he de­ter­mined the ra­dio host didn’t do so in “bad faith.”

Mueller’s law­suit claims he was fired from his job and banned from Swift con­certs for life based on false al­le­ga­tions about the Pepsi Cen­ter en­counter on June 2, 2013. Mueller had been in­vited, as part of his then-job at 98.5 KYGO on the “Ryno and Jack­son” morn­ing show, to meet Swift back­stage.

Martinez wrote that the record­ing was rel­e­vant to nu­mer­ous dis­puted facts and is­sues in the case and would have been “in­valu­able to a jury.”

He wrote that Mueller was the only per­son with the com­plete au­dio record­ing and knew full well that lit­i­ga­tion was im­mi­nent “since he was pur­su­ing it.”

“He made the de­ci­sion — in­ex­pli­ca­bly, in the court’s view — to al­ter the original ev­i­dence and to present his lawyer with only ‘clips’ hand-picked from the un­der­ly­ing ev­i­dence,” Martinez wrote.

Be­cause Mueller may seek nearly $3 mil­lion in dam­ages, the judge wrote, “it is very hard to understand how he spent so lit­tle time and ef­fort to pre­serve the very ev­i­dence which — one might think — could have helped him to prove his claims, and why he ev­i­dently re­sponded with non­cha­lance when that ev­i­dence was lost.”

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