After being publicly chastised for not paying his settlement, former DJ David Mueller says he paid Taylor Swift a "symbolic" $1, just as the court ruled in her sexual harassment case against him. But, he didn't just send her a dollar bill; no, he sent her a Sacagawea coin. So why did Mueller send Swift a Sacagawea coin? Apparently it was Mueller's way of making a point, a final jab at Swift, but his petty gesture doesn't take away from how important this settlement is for any sexual assault victims who have dared to speak out against their abusers.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Mueller said he sent Swift the dollar coin in the mail last week. According to the AP, Mueller showed them a letter of proof that the payment was sent on Nov. 28. But he originally floated this idea in an interview with the Associated Press back in August. It was right after the court sided with Swift in the sexual harassment case, where the pop singer accused the ex-DJ of groping her under her skirt during a 2013 meet-and-greet. Swift requested Mueller pay her "a single symbolic dollar, the value of which is immeasurable to all women in this situation."
But, Mueller said that sending her a coin featuring Sacagawea — the Native-American woman, who helped Lewis and Clark on their expedition across the West by acting as an interpreter — would be his own commentary on the case. "I mean if this is all about women's rights," he told the AP. "It's a little poke at them, a little bit I mean, I think they made this into a publicity stunt, and this is my life."
Mueller may have hoped sending the coin would be his own symbolic gesture, but it shows that he hasn't spent much time thinking about his role in the case. Or at least addressing it publicly.
As some people may forget, Swift's suit against Mueller was actually a countersuit. Mueller originally sued Swift for up to $3 million, claiming her allegation that he groped her in 2013 cost him his job as a morning host at the Denver country station KYGO-FM. Following the verdict in Swift's countersuit, Mueller's lawsuit against Swift was dismissed with the judge finding no evidence that the pop star "acted improperly nor that her reporting of the incident was improper."
Mueller may not agree with the court's decision. He's denied Swift's sexual assault claim, telling Good Morning America days after the court ruled against him, "I never grabbed her. I never had my hand under her skirt and I can pass a polygraph.”
But in the end, the court did decide in Swift's favor and not his. It's why Swift initially called Mueller out for not paying her in her Time Person of the Year interview, where she was honored as one of 35 men and women dubbed "The Silence Breakers." And she did so without ever using his name, perhaps, her own way of poking at him a little bit. She told the magazine,
“When the jury found in my favor, the man who sexually assaulted me was court-ordered to give me a symbolic $1. To this day he has not paid me that dollar, and I think that act of defiance is symbolic in itself.”
And, she's right, Mueller has admitted as much. But, sending a dollar coin four months later is not as clever a move as he thinks. For him, sending a Sacagawea coin is way of getting revenge, it's his retaliation against Swift's claims that he groped her. It's his way of fighting against the system, a way of showing how little he agrees with the court's decision.
But, it was never about the money for Swift, it was what the money meant to so many women. Before the verdict, Swift told Time that her case was often treated as if it was a joke. "You might be made to feel like you're overreacting," she said, "because society has made this stuff seem so casual." That dollar, though, showed that her claims were taken seriously and that justice could be served to those women who are brave enough to stand up and fight.
Whether that justice comes in the form of a dollar or a coin, doesn't matter, the fact the court ruled in her favor — in favor of women everywhere who have been the victims of sexual assault — is priceless.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.