After keeping a low profile for months, Taylor Swift has put herself back in the spotlight in a bare bottom-groping trial, whose potential for embarrassment many celebrities would do their best to avoid.
Yet Swift, one of the biggest names in pop music, shows no signs of wanting to shake off the attention accompanying a sexual assault trial underway this week in Colorado, despite scant support from other female stars.
Instead of settling out of court, Swift, 27, is expected to take the stand and testify in the civil case against a former Denver DJ.
The DJ, David Mueller, 55, sued Swift, claiming he lost his job after she told his manager that he had grabbed her bare buttocks during a meet-and-greet session in Denver four years ago. Mueller has said he is innocent and did nothing inappropriate.
Swift countersued Mueller for assault and is seeking a symbolic $1 in damages to make the point that “you can say no when someone puts their hand on you,” her lawyer told the Denver court in opening statements.
Mueller has said he is innocent and did nothing inappropriate.
Her typical strategy has been to write “a nasty song about the person,” said Howard Bragman, the founder of Hollywood PR firm Fifteen Minutes. “So clearly, she wants to make a point and she believes she is in the right.”
“It’s wildly unusual for someone of her caliber to go through with one of these lawsuits. Ninety-nine percent of the time they are settled,” said Bragman.
He said trials are unpredictable and can bring up questions over people’s sex lives “and no celebrity wants to put themselves up for that kind of situation.”
Swift, who has 85 million Twitter and 102 million Instagram followers, has said in depositions she wants the case to serve as an example to other women “who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.”
Yet the country-turned-pop star, who has a mixed track record on feminist issues, is not so far getting the support she might expect from her peers for taking a stand.
In January, Swift was accused on social media and by female commentators of being an opportunist feminist for not doing more to support the massive women’s marches across the United States that brought the likes of Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Madonna onto the streets. She did not respond.
Despite donating $250,000 to Kesha in 2016 for her own sexual assault legal battles, the “Tik-Tok” singer has been silent so far about Swift’s case. Lady Gaga, who has spoken about being raped when younger, has also said nothing, as has Madonna.
The Denver trial follows a difficult 12 months for the singer after a much-ridiculed 2016 summer fling with British actor Tom Hiddleston. She also feuded with Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and Katy Perry.
Previously ubiquitous on social media and red carpets, Swift subsequently dropped out of public view. A single tweet in May sending prayers to the victims of the Manchester bombing in England has been her only Twitter posting in more than six months.