Michael David Barrett, a 48 year old insurance salesman from Chicago, has been charged with interstate stalking of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews. Barrett appeared in a Chicago federal court on Saturday after he was arrested at O’Hare International Airport on Friday. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
The FBI suspects that Barrett followed Andrews to her Knoxville, Tennessee hotel room in September 2008, and taped her through a doctored peephole. He then allegedly posted
videos of her walking around naked, after attempts to sell them to TMZ.com failed.
According to the FBI report, Barrett’s request for a room next to Andrews was granted by the staff at the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University. Investigators found that room’s peephole had been tampered with, allowing Andrews’ stalker to see into the room, and record its occupant with his cell phone’s video camera.
Authorities also claim that Barrett found out Andrews was staying at Milwaukee’s Radisson Airport Hotel while covering a Major League Baseball game in July 2008, and booked a room there. Though Barrett never spent a night there, police found another altered peephole in the room Andrews stayed in.
Barrett’s arrest surprised neighbors from his upscale Chicago suburb, who say Barrett, a divorced dad, “looked absolutely normal.”
Andrews, 31, has covered hockey, college football, college basketball and Major League Baseball for ESPN since 2004.
“I hope that today’s action will help the countless others who have been similarly victimized,” said Andrews in a statement on Saturday. “I will make every effort to strengthen the laws on a state and federal level to better protect victims of criminal stalking.”