Man Pleads Guilty To Stalking ESPN's Erin Andrews
An Illinois insurance executive pleaded guilty Tuesday to secretly shooting nude videos of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, who repeatedly called her stalker a sexual predator in court and said she hopes he “never sees the light of day.”
Michael David Barrett pleaded guilty to interstate stalking after Andrews urged the judge to give him a harsh sentence and not allow him out on bail.
“His actions have had a devastating impact on me and my family,” said Andrews, who attended the hearing with her father and attorney.
She said she is constantly reminded that Barrett’s videos appeared online, subjecting her to cruel taunts from sports fans while working as a sideline reporter.
“I don’t know him,” she said. “I haven’t met him. I hope he never sees the light of day.”
U.S. District Judge Manuel Real allowed Barrett, of Westmont, Ill., to remain free pending sentencing on Feb. 22.
A plea deal filed last week says prosecutors and Barrett agreed to a 27-month prison sentence. But the judge will decide how long he actually serves and how much restitution he will have to pay Andrews.
Her attorney Marshall Grossman said Andrews did not agree to the sentence outlined in the plea bargain and will address the court again before Barrett’s punishment is ordered.
Barrett has admitted renting hotel rooms next to Andrews three times and shooting two videos of her while she was naked. He was accused of posting the videos online and trying to sell them to Los Angeles-based celebrity gossip site TMZ this year.
Andrews was poised as she addressed the court. She looked down at times as Real read the allegations against Barrett, which included details of him traveling to follow Andrews. She shook her head when Real read about Barrett buying information about Andrews online and dabbed tears after Barrett entered his guilty plea.
After the hearing, Andrews said she struggled to keep her composure when she entered the courtroom but felt it was important that her views be heard.
She said she plans to advocate for changes in the hotel industry that will protect female travelers. She also said she was appalled to learn that hotels gave out information about where she was staying, adding that she still calls hotels to see if they’ll acknowledge she’s a guest. They often do, she said.
“I have a responsibility to other women,” Andrews said. “If I back down or shy away, what kind of message does that send to other women and other guys who may be doing this?”
She lamented that the videos remain online and can never be scrubbed from the Internet. She spoke candidly to the judge and reporters after the hearing about being “a little paranoid” when she checks into a hotel. She said she sometimes imagines she sees Barrett and has nightmares.
“I live in hotels because of my job, and every time I check in, I look around, constantly thinking he is there,” she said.
Barrett stood at a podium for the nearly 10 minutes it took to read the allegations against him. He repeatedly answered, “Yes, your honor” when Real asked him to waive his rights and confirm the truthfulness of the allegations.
His attorney released a statement after the hearing apologizing to Andrews and saying Barrett is looking forward to any opportunity to “make positive changes in his life.”
Both Grossman and Andrews’ father, Steve, hinted that Barrett may face further penalties than the ones imposed in this case.
Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles have agreed not to pursue further charges against Barrett. However, he could face criminal action in other states stemming from other videos he allegedly shot of unsuspecting nude women through peepholes.
Grossman said there could be as many as a dozen other women that Barrett taped, but he did not provide further details.
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