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Look What You Made Her Do | Taylor Swift: A Victory for Sexual Assault Victims?

By: Blair Boles

In 2017, a dollar does not go a long way. If you are lucky, you could get a small order of fries from a fast food joint, a stale honeybun from a school vending machine, or possibly, a pack of gum. Though for just one dollar, Taylor Swift got vindication.

In early August of this year, U.S. District Judge William Martinez, in Denver, Colorado, presided over a case between now former DJ David Mueller and pop-star Taylor Swift. The suit arose when, in 2013, David Mueller groped Taylor Swift’s bare backside during a photo shoot. Consequently, Mueller was fired from the radio station where he was employed. He then filed suit against Swift, claiming defamation and blaming her for the loss of his job. It was then that Taylor Swift decided to countersue for the sum of one dollar for Mueller’s violating actions during the 2013 photo session.

This trial was symbolic for many reasons—the damages that were sought by Swift, the powerful testimony of a confident and unwavering woman, and lastly, the outcome. On the fourth day of trial, Mueller’s claims against Swift were dismissed. However, the jury found in favor of Swift on her claims against Mueller.

Many have spoken out about the resolution of this trial. Whether they are words of support or words of apprehension, the case has unquestionably made an impact. Those in support see this win as a step forward in the feminism movement, specifically a step towards justice for victims of sexual assault.

This step towards justice is important, because the history of sexual assault cases have proven to not be as successful as Swift’s. In 2015, Brock Turner’s case shook the scene when he only received six months in prison for rape. Not only was his punishment a very brief sentence, but he also got early release after serving three months. Around the same time as Turner’s conviction, a young male around the same age by the name of Austin Wilkerson was convicted of rape. According to the Denver Post, where this case took place, Wilkerson was sentenced to two years in prison, but was released recently, one year early.

Those in apprehension are mostly questioning whether or not the outcome would have been the same if the victim were not a well-known celebrity. One comment specifically came from The New York Times, a quote from Lulu Hearn who said, “What annoys me about Swift’s trial and her saying that she’s doing this to make it easier on sexual assault victims is that, rarely can someone afford to take a person to court for sexual harassment, get the time off work, deal with the stigma and humiliation that comes along with it and still manage to win the case. Swift represents a very fine privileged, white, rich minority who can take action against sexual assault. The rest of us are left to suffer.”

To counter these concerns, according to The Huffington Post, Swift announced she would be donating money to organizations that help victims of sexual assault. The Huffington Post quoted Swift: “I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, in society and in my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this . . . [m]y hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard. Therefore I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.”

Whether or not it was because of her notoriety, Taylor Swift was a victim and won a challenging battle that will hopefully change the way sexual assault cases are handled in the future.

Law Student

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