A federal judge has sanctioned a former radio host who sued Taylor Swift for “falsely” accusing him of groping her.
The alleged incident took place before the pop star’s concert at Denver’s Pepsi Center in June 2013. Mueller sued Swift in October 2015, claiming he was fired from his job at 98.5 KYGO and banned from Swift concerts for life. She countersued him later, saying he waited “unreasonably” long to file his suit.
Swift’s suit also said he “did not merely brush his hand against Ms. Swift while posing for the photograph: he lifted her skirt and groped her.”
US District Judge William Martinez ruled that Swift’s attorneys will be allowed to question Mueller about a two-hour recording he made during an interview with his boss the day before the former radio host was fired. The recording was lost when he destroyed or threw away four electronic devices, as the Denver Post reports.
Martinez said he could have giving harsher sanctions against Mueller if he concluded that Mueller had intentionally destroyed or got rid of the devices. The judge said the recording is critical evidence because Mueller’s boss Robert Call claims Mueller changed his story when confronted about Swift’s claim.
“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 phone and later transferred it to his laptop and office computer, according to the judge’s 16-page ruling.
Mueller has admitted destroying or losing the devices for a number of reasons, including that he spilled coffee on his laptop’s keyboard.
The judge wrote that, because Mueller is seeking nearly $3 million (£2.31m) in damages, “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.”
Attorneys in the case have been forbidden to discuss the judge’s order in front of the jury.