A jury awarded journalist Erin Andrews $55 million in her lawsuit against a Nashville Marriott hotel today.
The case has all the makings of a great Lifetime movie: corruption, stalking, large amounts of money, and an attractive female protagonist. But Andrews' case deserves our attention for much more serious reasons: The ESPN sideline reporter experienced stalking, nasty workplace discrimination, and a heavy dose of sexism.
Below, check out the five most horrifying aspects of this headline-grabbing case:
Andrews' stalker followed her across three different states.
Michael David Barrett, an insurance executive from Illinois, plead guilty in 2009 to stalking Andrews across state lines.
Prosecutors claim that he followed Andrews to Columbus, Ohio and then
Nashville, Tennessee, where he shot the videos. Later, he continued his
stalking spree to Andrews' hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In a chilling deposition,
Barrett admitted to requesting the hotel room next Andrews in Nashville
and removing the peephole from her door so he could film her naked. He
even admitted to videotaping at least 10 other women.
A judge in Los Angeles sentenced him to 30 months in prison and three years’ probation in 2010.
The videos of Andrews have been seen over 16.8 million times.
As creepy men tend to do, Barrett posted the results of his super-stalking mission online. The videos have now been seen almost 17 million times, according to computer science professor Bernard Jansen,
"It's my body on the Internet," Andrews said at Barrett's trial. "I'm being traumatized every single day for what he did ... This will never be over for me."
Unfortunately for Barrett, the news media didn't bite. So why did he post the videos online for free?
"That is a great question ..." Barrett said in his deposition. "I don’t know."Neither do we, dude. Neither do we.
ESPN forced Andrews to do an interview about the whole thing.
After being stalked, secretly videotaped, and publicly humiliated, Andrews was then required to go on-air to relive it all.
"Because there wasn't an arrest, because we didn't know where this happened, my bosses at ESPN told me, 'Before you go back on-air for college football, we need you to give us a sit-down interview,'" Andrews said in her testimony. "That was the only way I was going to be allowed back."
Andrews eventually caved to her employer's demands and appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, though she says the experience caused her to break out in a stress rash.
ESPN denied any wrongdoing in a statement:
"Developments in the case have been interpreted by some to mean that ESPN was unsupportive of Erin in the aftermath of her ordeal. Nothing could be further from the truth," the statement, posted on Twitter by Sports Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch, reads. "We have been and continue to be supportive of Erin."
Interestingly, ESPN's executives haven't denied forcing Andrews to do the interview. Heads up, ESPN: being "supportive" of survivors does not include making them rehash their experience on national TV.
The Nashville Marriott actually claimed that the videos were a good thing.
In an incomprehensible twist of logic, the hotel's lawyers actually claimed that Andrew’s ordeal benefited her.
They listed her long series of sponsorships — such as Victoria’s Secret
and Degree deodorant — as proof that the videos bolstered her career.
“You have done very well in your career since 2009?” the defense asked her.
"Yes," she replied honestly.
the defense claimed that Andrews does not deserve restitution for
"emotional distress and embarrassment" because of her continued success.
This sends a dangerous message to women: Any emotional damage incurred
by having your naked body splashed across the internet is nothing
compared to the glittering 15 minutes of fame you'll get in return.
Unfortunately, this line of reasoning doesn't even work in Andrews case. As legal expert Michael McCann pointed out to Sports Illustrated, Andrews was already famous in her own right, before the videos surfaced.
"There is no evidence that this incident helped her," McCann told Sports Illustrated. "It probably, based on her testimony, caused her tremendous emotional anguish. That's not going to be good for anyone’s career."
This time, justice was served.