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The Reason Taylor Swift Is Suing A DJ For $1

She refuses to be made to “feel like this is my fault.”

UPDATE [August 12, 10:20 a.m. E.T.]: David Mueller's suit against Taylor Swift has been dropped following her August 10 testimony on the grounds of "insufficient evidence" that she "acted improperly when she reported an assault she truly believed happened."

After almost a year of silence, Taylor Swift is finally back in the spotlight. Rather than promote a new album or go on tour, however, she is taking a stand for an important cause. This week, Swift went to trial against David Mueller, a man she alleges sexually assaulted her before a 2013 concert. She’s pursuing this case, she has said, to empower other assault victims who are afraid to come forward.

  1. What’s the case about?
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    Swift first alleged that Mueller reached under her skirt and grabbed her behind during a photo-op backstage at the Denver Pepsi Center in June 2013. Two years later, Mueller, an ex-radio DJ from Colorado, sued Swift for $3 million, claiming her accusations were false and had cost him his reputation and his job at the radio station KYGO-FM. A month later the pop star countersued Mueller to make a point about assault victims coming forward. The singer’s lawyers have recently reiterated that Swift doesn’t care about the money: In fact, she’s suing Mueller for a symbolic $1 because she wants other women to know that they “can always say no.”

    A photo of the alleged incident does exist, and while Swift and her team tried to keep it private, TMZ leaked the shot last year. The photo shows Mueller’s arm behind Swift’s back. A clear view of his hand is blocked in the photo, and the DJ has repeatedly denied that he touched Swift inappropriately.

    On Tuesday, Mueller took the stand and defended himself again. "I know my palm was facing down. I do know that, sir," Mueller told the judge on Tuesday.

    Also on Tuesday, her mother, Andrea Swift, teared up as she gave her testimony. She gestured to Mueller and said,“I don’t want to make her relive this moment over and over again … but we didn’t want him to get away with it.”

  2. Taylor takes the stand
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    When Swift took the stand on Thursday, she said that “it was a definite grab. A very long grab … long enough for me to be completely sure it was intentional.” She testified that a security guard saw Mueller lifting her skirt, but they took the photo with their backs against the wall so nobody else would’ve witnessed the incident. When asked why the front of her skirt didn’t appear ruffled in the photo taken of the incident, Swift reportedly fired back “because my ass is located on the back of my body.”

  3. Reactions to Swift's case

    Responses to the trial have been mixed, including both die-hard stans showing their unfailing support and those who doubt her claim. Others have pointed out that whether or not you’re a fan of her work, it’s difficult for anyone to testify about sexual assault.

    So far, many celebrities have kept quiet on Twitter about the trial, but a few have rushed to Swift’s cause.

  4. The Bigger Problem
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    This trial comes at a time when more female artists are speaking out about the sexism they face, and even how they’ve been physically and/or emotionally taken advantage of by men in the music industry. In 2015, Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors tweeted that prominent music publicist Heathcliff Berru sexually assaulted her. In 2014, Kesha tried to breach her contract with producer Dr. Luke for “sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abusing her to the point where [she] nearly lost her life."

    According to RAINN, a person in the United States is assaulted every 98 seconds, yet only six out of every 1,000 perpetrators end up in prison. Jennifer Long, the executive director of AEquitas, a firm that aims to refine the prosecution practices in cases of violence against women, told the New York Times that very few adults report groping as a crime. She added that even fewer allegations get far enough through the system to be prosecuted.

  5. What now?
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    The trial is scheduled for nine days and is expected to end next week. But if Swift wins any money, EW reports that she has vowed to donate it to “charitable organizations dedicated to protecting women from similar acts of sexual assault and personal disregard.”

    But no matter the outcome, Swift’s decision to pursue this trial at all is undoubtedly sending an important message to other assault victims. As she put it, she refuses “to let you or your client make me feel like this is my fault.”