ESPN Reporter’s Stalker Gets 30 Months in Prison

by | March 16, 2010 at 6:43 AM | Celebrities, Dancing With The Stars

ESPN's Erin Andrews (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

ESPN's Erin Andrews (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

By LINDA DEUTSCH
AP Special Correspondent

LOS ANGELES — ESPN reporter Erin Andrews says her ordeal at the hands of a video stalker still haunts her every time she steps into a hotel room, wondering if someone is in the next room waiting to invade her privacy with a hidden camera.

Andrews spoke Monday just after the Illinois insurance executive who acknowledged shooting videos of her naked through hotel peepholes received a 2 1/2 year federal prison sentence.

“I’m at the angry stage. I’m mad,” a tearful Andrews told reporters outside court. “Thirty months isn’t enough.”

Michael David Barrett, 48, pleaded guilty in December to interstate stalking in the case. Prosecutors had accused him of following Andrews to at least three cities and then posting the videos of her on the Internet.

U.S. District Judge Manuel Real, who sentenced Barrett, gave him a longer term than the 27 months agreed to in a plea bargain. He said 30 months was the maximum he could impose under court guidelines.

“The victim, Andrews, will be suffering with this problem for the rest of her life,” Real said. “There is no life sentence that can be imposed upon him, except his own guilt.”

Her lawyer, Marshall Grossman, said there could be more charges forthcoming in other districts involving additional women who were stalked by Barrett. He gave no specific details.

A sentencing memo filed last month in federal court says Barrett uploaded videos of 16 other women to an online account.

Barrett also allegedly conducted 30 Internet background checks that can produce birthdays and home addresses, the document said. The filing did not name the other alleged victims or say what information he obtained or how he may have used it.

The scene in court was emotional with both defendant and victim in tears as they made separate speeches. Barrett apologized and Andrews scoffed at the apology.

“He’s tremendously remorseful and broken by what he’s done,” said Barrett’s attorney, David Willingham. He said Barrett has sought psychological treatment and is trying to get back on the right path.

“There are no words to tell Ms. Andrews how sorry I am for what I’ve done to her,” Barrett said. “I hope someday she can forgive me.”

Willingham said Barrett has lost his career, his fiancee and his life savings.

“There’s the public humiliation he suffered and yes, he brought that on himself.”

Andrews shot back: “He says he’s suffering public humiliation? I’m suffering public humiliation.”

She added that her body is on display on the Internet, where Barrett’s video clips have been posted and have made her a victim day after day.

“This will never be over for me,” she said.

She turned to Barrett and said, “You violated me and you violated all women. You are a sexual predator, a sexual deviant and they should lock you up.”

Her father, Steve Andrews, who could not be in court, sent a letter which was read to the judge by her lawyer.

Andrews said his entire family had suffered the ordeal and that Erin’s sense of security was destroyed. Barrett deserves to be locked up for as long as the video run on the Internet, he said.

“He hunted and terrorized her,” Andrews said. “His behavior forced Erin into a virtual state of hiding for eight months. She has lived as a virtual recluse.”

Grossman said he is having success trying to stop the video from further dissemination but said it will never be totally eradicated.

Outside court, Andrews said that in spite of the strain, she never missed a day of work as a sports sideline reporter for ESPN. She recently signed up to compete on the TV show, ‘Dancing With the Stars.’

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” she said of her decision to do the show. “I want to smile and live my life.”

She said she had been contacted about the show before the stalking occurred, but declined until the case was completed.

Barrett, who has until May 3 to surrender, was ordered to have supervised probation for three years after his release. He is prohibited from contacting Andrews, her family or friends and will not be allowed to stay in a hotel without approval of a probation officer. If he accepts employment somewhere, Andrews will be notified.

Barrett was also ordered to pay $5,000 in fines and $7,366 in restitution, but the judge said further restitution may be imposed to compensate ESPN.

Grossman said the network spent between $300,000 and $400,000 on lawyers and security guards for Andrews.

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