FBI arrests, charges man over nude videos of US presenter Erin Andrews

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The FBI have arrested a man and charged him with interstate stalking over allegations he was responsible for nude videos of United States sports news presenter Erin Andrews. The videos appeared on the Internet earlier this year.

Erin Andrews in 2007
Image: Drew Shealy.

The FBI believes seven videos of Andrews were made in Nashville, Tennessee in September last year while another one was made in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is believed that the suspect, Michael David Barrett, 48, stayed each time in a room next to Andrews and modified her room's peephole with a hacksaw in order to take the videos with his mobile phone.

Barrett was returning from a trip to Buffalo, New York on Friday when he was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. He has been held over the weekend and made an initial court appearance in Chicago on Saturday.

It is alleged that Barrett tried to sell the videos to celebrity website TMZ.com, but one of their employees told Andrews' lawyer. He faces the charge in Los Angeles where TMZ is based and tomorrow a judge will decide whether to send him there or release him on bail. He faces a fine of $250,000 and five years imprisonment if convicted.

For my part, I will make every effort to strengthen the laws on a state and federal level to better protect victims of criminal stalking.

Erin Andrews

Marriott Nashville at Vanderbilt University has been identified as the location most of the videos were taken but the hotel involved in the one thought to be taken in Milwaukee remains a mystery. A room Andres used at Milwaukee's Ramada Conference Center had similar damage to its peephole but the room did not match the video and Barrett is not thought to have checked in there, although it is claimed he did reserve a room beside Andrews. It is also claimed he made a similar request when booking his room at the Marriott.

Andrews has reviewed several of the videos in an effort to assist authorities with their enquiries. "For my part, I will make every effort to strengthen the laws on a state and federal level to better protect victims of criminal stalking," she said in a statement that thanked the FBI and federal prosecutors. She has topped a Playboy poll for sexiest sportscaster for the last two years running.

People who know Barrett have expressed surprise. "I don't think he's even had a traffic ticket... He's as regular a guy as you'll ever meet — a great friend," said his lawyer, Rick Beuke. Barrett's father Frank said the allegations "[do] not match the Mike I know." "He's always been an upstanding, hardworking guy," according to Frank.