Aside from her on-again, maybe off-again feud with Katy Perry, pop star Taylor Swift has had a relatively quiet year by her standards. Even that beef with Perry has been pretty one-sided; while Perry embarked on a press tour for her new album and dished on some of the drama, Swift mostly made her moves in silence, towering over the competition.
But now she's fighting a real battle. On Monday, Swift made her first appearance in a Colorado courtroom, expected to testify in a civil suit over an alleged sexual assault by a local radio host. It's not often you see a person of Swift's stature in the courtroom, let alone testifying, so the whole thing is being turned into quite a disturbing spectacle.
In case you're not up to date on everything that's happened with the case, here's everything you need to know heading into the trial.
Swift said she was grabbed by a DJ, Colorado resident David Mueller
Way back in June 2013, when Swift was only 23 years old, the singer was at a concert in Denver when she met DJ David Mueller, an employee of local radio station 98.5 KYGO at the time. Swift has claimed Mueller intentionally grabbed her while posing for a picture.
“Right as the moment came for us to pose for the photo, he took his hand and put it up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek, and no matter how much I scooted over, it was still there," Swift said in her deposition. "It was completely intentional. I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.”
An alleged photo of the incident, later obtained by TMZ, appears to show Mueller's hand in that area of her body.
Mueller sued Swift for monetary losses stemming from her claim
Shamed by the public and under fire after Swift's claim, Mueller was let go from his job with 98.5 KYGO. Claiming the events did not go down as depicted, Mueller was the first to strike in court, suing the singer for damages in September 2015.
The basis for Mueller's suit stemmed from the money he was making prior to being fired—reportedly around $150,000 base salary, plus various bonuses—and his belief he had not touched Swift inappropriately at any time.
"Mueller steadfastly maintains that no inappropriate contact of any kind occurred between him and Ms. Swift," read his claim. He also insisted other business opportunities were taken away from him as a result of Swift's allegations against him.
Other parties named in Mueller's suit include Swift's mother, Andrea, and Swift's manager, Frank Bell.
Swift counter sued Mueller and asked for a jury trial
Refusing to let Mueller make these claims unchecked, Swift brought forth a counter suit less than a month later and called into question both Mueller's character and his version of events from that evening. Following Mueller's attempt to blame his superior at KYGO, a man named Eddie Haskell, documents from Swift's counter suit were emphatic that there was no doubt over who the guilty party was.
"Ms. Swift knows exactly who committed the assault—it was Mueller—and she is not confused in the slightest about whether her long-term business acquaintance, Mr. Haskell, was the culprit," the documents read. "Mueller did not merely brush his hand against Ms. Swift while posing for the photograph,” state the papers. “He lifted her skirt and groped her."
As part of her counter claim, Swift requested a jury trial for the matter, and offered to donate any winnings from the suit to "charitable organizations dedicated to protecting women from similar acts of sexual assault and personal disregard."
Swift already won a pre-trial victory over evidence mishandling
A key piece of evidence in the case of Swift vs. Mueller was an audio recording the latter held of an interview with his boss from the day he was fired. The recording was all set to be a crucial part of the legal debate, but Mueller ended up destroying or throwing away the four electronic devices it was allegedly stored on.
As a result, Swift and her attorneys won a big pre-trial victory over Mueller. Presented with this information, U.S. District Judge William Martinez sanctioned Mueller for his actions, and ruled jury members can weigh the destruction of evidence when they make a final decision on the case.
"It is very hard to understand," said Martinez, "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.”
You can attend the trial, but there are a few important caveats
If you've ever wanted to sit in the courtroom for a big celebrity's trial, you'll have your chance during the Swift ordeal. But you'll have to show up early, and you're not going to be able to share all the gory details whenever you want to.
According to the Denver Post, 32 passes will be available for each of the morning and afternoon courtroom sessions on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you're not one of those groups of 32, an overflow room in the courthouse will be made available for an additional 75 people, who will be allowed to watch the trial on closed-circuit television. You can get your hands on a pass for free.
But if you're a Swift fan—or even if you're taking up for Mueller—don't expect to rock any supportive garb in the courtroom setting. Clothing, buttons, banners, and signs with names or messages regarding either party of interest are strictly prohibited, and electronic devices including phones, laptops, and tablets are not welcome in the courtroom, and will have to be checked with security before you're allowed to enter.
It's a sexual assault trial, not a "butt grabbing trial"
A lot of people have taken to calling this case the Taylor Swift "butt grabbing trial," for some reason distinguishing the type of sexual assault as if you need to know anything beyond the fact that it's sexual assault.
This is a sexual assault trial, period, because it involves a woman's claim she was groped by someone else against her will. That is how it should be framed and thought of, because the location of the groping is not as important as whether or not she was groped in general.
The case is expected to last nine days
This one is pretty straightforward, but the whole thing is expected be done in just over a week. Then again, there's no guarantee that they'll stick to any sort of pre-supposed schedule, since Swift's presence/celebrity will add complications to a legal process already bogged down on its own.