DJ: Photo of me with Taylor Swift appears 'awkward'

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(CNN) — The ex-radio disc jockey suing Taylor Swift vehemently denied under oath that he inappropriately touched the pop star, but acknowledged that a 2013 photo of them appears to show Swift trying to get away from him.

Under cross-examination on Wednesday as part of a federal civil trial, former KYGO radio host David Mueller testified that the photo of him and Swift from 2013 appeared "weird" and "awkward."

The civil trial centers on Swift's allegation that Mueller reached under her skirt and grabbed her behind during a meet-and-greet at Denver's Pepsi Center in June 2013. KYGO is a CNN affiliate.

Swift's team told KYGO about the incident, and Mueller, then 51, was fired two days later. In 2015 he sued Swift; her mother, Andrea Swift; and her radio promotions director Frank Bell, alleging that they pressured KYGO to terminate him and that he lost his job because of the false accusation.

Swift, who was 23 at the time, filed a countersuit in which she accused him of "reaching under her dress and grabbing her bottom" as they posed for the photo.

Mueller testified that his and Swift's hands and arms touched as they got into position for the photo. He said his hand was in a closed fist and touched what seemed to be her ribs, and he denied any groping or inappropriate contact on her rear end.

On cross-examination Wednesday Swift's attorney, Doug Baldridge, questioned the positioning of Mueller's hands at the photo-op.

"I know my palm was facing down. I do know that, sir," Mueller said.

Swift, one of the most powerful celebrities in the world, has been present in court in Denver along with her mother and Bell. They are expected to testify during the trial.

Andrea Swift was called to the stand on Wednesday afternoon as the case's second witness.

During her emotional testimony she gestured at Mueller and said, "He sexually assaulted her. Right there, that guy."

Court adjourned with Bell, who handles relations between Taylor Swift's team and radio stations, on the stand. Bell testified that Swift told him a radio guy grabbed her.

'I want to clear my name'

A key piece of evidence in the case is the photo in question of Swift, Mueller and his then-girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, from the meet-and-greet.

The photo, leaked last year and shown in court, shows Mueller with his hand hidden from view below Swift's lower back. Swift's attorneys have pointed to that as evidence of the inappropriate touching, and noted that KYGO cited the photo as one reason for his termination.

However, Gabriel McFarland, Mueller's attorney, said the photo did not show any inappropriate under-skirt touching, as Swift has alleged.

"If you look at that photo, his hand is not underneath her skirt. It's not ruffled, rumpled, affected in any form or fashion," McFarland said.

Mueller testified that the groping accusation, which he maintains is false, cost him his future in radio.

"It cost me my career. It cost me my income. It's been hard on my family. It's been hard on my friends," Mueller said.

"I want to clear my name," he added.

Mueller's suit doesn't seek a specific monetary amount, but an expert retained by the ex-radio host determined that nearly $3 million was a fair compensation for damages.

'His motivation is money'

However, Swift's attorney said in opening statements that Swift was "absolutely certain" that Mueller had grabbed her. Baldridge accused Mueller of filing the lawsuit for money and fame.

"He wants you to give him a payday," Baldridge told the jury of two men and six women. "His motivation is money, calling attention to himself, and getting revenge on his boss."

Baldridge also suggested that Mueller had rendered himself unemployable by publicizing the incident with Swift.

Mueller does not have a job in radio because he told 37 people about the accusations and because he hasn't applied for that many jobs, Baldridge said.

In his opening statement, Baldridge argued that Mueller had repeatedly changed his story about the photo-op and that he had destroyed evidence in the case.

In cross-examination Tuesday, Mueller said that he had recorded a conversation he had with his KYGO bosses discussing the alleged touching. However, Mueller admitted that several of his electronic devices broke and that unedited versions of those recordings had been lost.

In addition, Baldridge referenced Mueller's description of Swift in a court deposition as cold and standoffish. Hearing that, Swift sat up in court, looking disgusted. She then wrote on a yellow Post-It note and passed it to one of her attorneys sitting across the table.

Mueller testified that he drew that conclusion because Swift didn't welcome him into the photograph and paid more attention to his girlfriend at the time.

"She didn't acknowledge me when it was time to pose for the photograph," Mueller said.

Mother: Taylor said she was groped

Andrea Swift told the court that her daughter was visibly upset before the concert.

"Mom, a guy just grabbed my (rear end) in the meet and greet," Andrea Swift said her daughter told her. She described her daughter as humiliated.

During cross-examination the mother added that she couldn't believe Taylor thanked Mueller for being there.

"It made me, as a parent, question why I taught her to be so polite," she said. And Andrea Swift said she also now thinks they should have called police and reported the incident.

She said she wanted Mueller to get fired but didn't demand it of his employers.

Andrea Swift said her daughter now has smaller meet-and-greets with stricter security.

This story was first published on CNN.com "DJ: Photo of me with Taylor Swift appears 'awkward.'"