Sportscaster and TV host Erin Andrews took the witness stand Monday, breaking down repeatedly and telling jurors of the devastation she continues to feel after a man secretly shot nude videos of her and posted them on the Internet.
Andrews sobbed as she recalled how some in the media speculated that she was doing it to attract attention to herself before the FBI made an arrest.
“Probably for three months, everybody thought it was a publicity stunt,” she said, choking up on the stand. “That ripped me apart.”
Andrews said she was terrified that the videos would go viral and she would never be able to get them off the Internet after a friend told her about them in July 2009.
“I just kept saying, 'We gotta get it down. We gotta get it down.' And we can't get it down! And we're never going to get it off,” she testified.
She told jurors that she worked hard ever since she was a little girl to be a sportscaster and now she is taunted daily by people who have seen the video.
“I wanted to be the girl next door who loved sports, and now I'm the girl with a hotel scandal,” she said.
She said the stalking left her fearful, anxious and depressed.
Her mother took the stand earlier, saying Andrews used to be easy-going and loved to talk to people at sports games before the stalking.
“And now, unless there's somebody to protect her, she does not interact,” Paula Andrews testified. “She's very, very frightened.”
Andrews is suing her stalker and the owner and operator of the Marriott at Vanderbilt for $75 million.
Jurors heard from the stalker earlier in the day during recorded depositions played in court. In the videos played before the jury, Michael David Barrett testified that he took the secret nude videos of Andrews so he could make money.
Barrett said the only reason he picked Andrews was because she was popular and he saw that she was trending on Yahoo. He posted the recordings online after celebrity gossip website TMZ refused to buy the footage.
Barrett spent more than 2 1/2 years in federal prison after he admitted to renting hotel rooms next to the Andrews three times and shooting nude videos of her in Nashville and Columbus, Ohio, and posting them on the Internet. He said he was able to get the videos of her by manipulating the hotel door peephole in such a way that he could pull the peephole out and use his mobile phone to shoot videos of her.
When an attorney asked him how he got the idea to shoot videos through the hotel room peepholes, he said: “I don't know, just a stupid thought.”
He was an executive with a Chicago-area insurance company when he shot the footage of Andrews in the Nashville hotel in September of 2008.
Barrett, who traveled extensively in his former job, admitted that he had also taken nude videos of about 10 other women in hotels and posted the footage online.
He has not shown up in court to fight the lawsuit. He may not have the money to mount a defence. He testified that he lives in Oregon with his father and drives a meat and food truck.
Jurors are going to have to decide if the hotel companies were negligent in any way. The companies maintain that what happened to her was terrible, but it is Barrett who is solely to blame. Jurors have heard conflicting testimony about how he came to be placed in a room right next to Andrews while she was staying at the hotel to cover a Vanderbilt football game for ESPN.
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