David “Jackson” Mueller, the Denver radio host who was found guilty last week of groping pop megastar Taylor Swift, succeeded in an interlocutory motion barring the singer from calling a Gender Studies academic to profile Mueller’s masculinity during Swift’s successful claim for assault and battery.
Mueller had initially attempted to sue Swift, claiming that he lost his job and was unfairly banned from Swift’s concerts for life due to the popstar’s allegedly false claim that he groped her during a 2013 pre-concert he conducted as host of the “Ryno and Jackson” morning show on Denver’s 98.5 KYGO station. US District Court Judge William Martinez dismissed Mueller’s claim, and last week found the radio presenter guilty of groping Swift and ordered him to pay the popstar a symbolic $1 in damages.
However, Swift’s lawyers were barred during proceedings from tending a 20-page report from Women and Gender Studies Professor Lorraine Bayard De Volo of the University of Colorado Boulder, who claimed that Mueller’s behaviour exhibited the need to assert power and masculine dominance typical of men who sexually harass famous women.
“Throughout David Mueller’s pleadings in this lawsuit and his deposition testimony, he indicated that even before he met Ms. Swift, he felt his job security was threatened, his identity as a radio personality was threatened, and his masculinity was threatened,” Professor Bayard De Volo wrote.
“This perfect storm of threats to Mr. Mueller’s perceived status is consistent with the well-settled, academically-accepted, perceived threats to status that motivate a man to commit sexual harassment or assault.”
Professor Bayard De Volo had argued that Mueller felt emasculated when he was relegated to the second group of radio personalities permitted to meet Swift at the 2013 concert, which he claimed made him feel like a “fan tag along” compared to his boss and colleagues in the earlier group. Professor Bayard De Volo further claimed that Mueller’s pleadings at trial indicated a belief that unsolicited sexual interaction would come across as a joke, given his status as a radio presenter.
However, Gabriel McFarland, the attorney for Mueller, succeeded in a motion to bar the report from being read in court. McFarland argued that Professor Bayard De Volo, who holds a doctorate in Political Science, has never delivered expert evidence before, and “apparently has no training in psychology”.
“There are millions of men who worry about their jobs or receive threats to their masculinity every day and who never sexually harass or assault women,” McFarlane’s motion argued.
U.S. District Judge William Martinez partially granted McFarlane’s motion, on the basis that “profile evidence” of the sort tendered by Swift’s lawyers risked prejudicing or confusing the jury.
“Whether the jury finds, based on the testimony and other evidence, that (Mueller) did improperly touch Ms. Swift, or finds that he did not, the questions of what motivated him to do so, including any perceived threats to his purported status as a powerful male, will be beside the point,” Justice Martínez wrote.
Nevertheless, Justice Martinez allowed Professor Bayard De Volo to testify on the academic evidence that victims typically do not report sexual assault and harassment immediately, as was consistent with Swift’s account of events.