Friday, July 21, 2017

GropeGate: Mueller Sanctioned For Destroying Potential Evidence

A federal judge has sanctioned a former Denver radio host, who sued Taylor Swift, for destroying multiple electronic devices containing key evidence in the case.

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 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.”

The Denver Post reports 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 98.5 FM boss, Robert Call, claims that 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 cellular phone and transferred it to his laptop and office computer, according to Martinez’ 16-page ruling. Mueller later gave snippets of the two-hour conversation that bolstered his claims to his attorney.

Mueller admits destroying or losing the cellular 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,” the determined the radio host didn’t do so in “bad faith.”

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