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Taylor Swift is preparing for a summer trial against the radio personality who she says grabbed her rear end during a meet and greet photo — and she’s commissioned an expert to analyze whether his behavior is consistent with perpetrators of sexual assault.
David Mueller sued the star in September 2015, claiming that he lost his job as a radio host at KYGO after she falsely accused him of groping her at a 2013 event. Swift responded with a sexual assault and battery suit of her own the next month.
Now, as trial is quickly approaching, the DJ wants the judge to preclude the testimony of a woman who wrote an opinion that his behavior is consistent with emotional and psychological traits associated with the types of men who sexually harass and assault women.
Mueller on Thursday filed a motion to bar testimony from Lorraine Bayard de Volo, who has a Ph.D. in political science and teaches women and gender studies at University of Colorado Boulder.
“She has never before served as an expert witness, and apparently has no training in psychology,” writes attorney Gabriel McFarland in the motion. “Nonetheless, according to Ms. Bayard de Volo’s written report, she intends to opine that Mr. Mueller had the profile of a person likely to sexually assault women.”
In her report, de Volo writes that “motives for sexual harassment and sexual assault boil down to protection or assertion of status, including efforts to boost or repair an ego, get retribution, humiliate, intimidate, or (in cases of high-status women) invert a power imbalance between target and harasser. The accepted academic literature and studies firmly recognize that a man can be motivated to sexually harass and assault a woman who appears more powerful or higher status as a means to assert his own status. Regardless of how warm or feminine a woman might be, a woman who is ambitious, dominant, assertive, independent, defending her own beliefs, and/or acting as a leader is at higher risk for experiencing sexual aggression.”
Applying the assessment to the case at hand, de Volo says the radio personality’s “masculine status” had been challenged because he and his girlfriend were part of a meet and greet that included fans, while his boss and colleague were treated as VIPs. The expert concludes, “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.”
Mueller argues that de Volo has never met or spoken to him and yet has profiled him as someone “likely to commit” sexual assault and her testimony should be inadmissible.
“If her report addressed such extreme generalizations about race, as opposed to gender, Defendants would have been embarrassed to submit it,” writes McFarland, adding that de Volo’s “profiling of men is no less offensive, and certainly no more helpful to the jury, than classic racial or ethnic profiling.”
Swift’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the motion.
Trial is currently scheduled to begin Aug. 7.
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