Sportscaster Erin Andrews is getting some Benjamin-based justice for the horrifying keyhole-videotaping incident that resulted in a naked video of her showing up online.
In fact, she’s been awarded $55 million for emotional distress and embarrassment—which still may not be enough to ever wipe away the smarmy ick-factor of what happened to her in a Nashville hotel in 2008.
Michael David Barrett, who has already spent two and a half years in jail for the crime, was an Andrews stalker. When he found out she was in town, he showed up at her hotel, the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University and asked to use the house phone.
“There’s a house phone in the [hotel] restaurant, so I picked up the house phone and called the operator, asked, ‘Can I have Erin Andrews’ room?’” he explained, according to a Page 6 transcript. “They connected me. On the house phone it shows a room number, so I knew what room she was in.”
From there he simply went up to verify it was her room—he heard her speaking on the phone and was easily able to—and then went back to the lobby to book the room next door to set up for the next phase of the attack.
Let’s break for a second—first of all, for the phone system to display guest room numbers on public phones, or any phone, is a breathtaking lapse of operational security. The ramifications of this are enormous, needless to say—stalkers, murderers, rapists et al would tend to find this a very useful tool indeed.
But then there’s the second half of the crime. After Barrett moved in next door he took a hacksaw to the peephole of her door.
That’s right—a hacksaw. And obviously had the time and the privacy to carry through with the plan without raising suspicion. This is also shocking. After all, the Nashville Marriott isn’t exactly the no-tell motel, is it? Shouldn’t there be some sort of hallway security cameras? The hotel has said that since the incident, it’s made peepholes tamper-proof. Gee, that sure is a relief.
“I took [her door’s] peephole out, altered it, put it back in and left shortly after,” he explained. “I used a hacksaw to cut off the threads, so it was basically a plug, and put it back in. I went back to the room, and, unfortunately for both of us, I could hear that the shower was on in her room when I walked by. I waited until the shower went off. Then I pulled out the plug [on her door] and waited for the opportunity. I waited for a matter of 10 seconds. I waited for her to be visible.”
He then proceeded to videotape her naked with his phone for 4.5 minutes.
He said that he wasn’t obsessed with Andrews, and that his decision was based solely on how popular she was, and that everything came together in a bit of a coincidence—that he had “heard” that she was staying there as he was in town on a business trip. His plan was to sell the video.
“It was based on her popularity,” he insisted.
The jig was up when he tried to sell the video to celebrity gossip site TMZ—which promptly notified the authorities. He posted it online anyway, where it was viewed millions of times.
“My plan was pretty ill-conceived,” he admitted.
But only slightly more ill-conceived than the absolute breakdown of security at the hotel. That’s why he’s on the hook for paying just 51% of the damages—over $28 million—while the hotel will pay the other 49%.
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