LOS ANGELES (AP) – A Chicago-area man accused of taping surreptitious nude videos of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews in a hotel room was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare airport Friday night, the FBI said.
Andrews is scheduled to work the Auburn-Tennessee game Saturday night. (Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)
Michael David Barrett faces federal charges of interstate stalking for taking the videos, trying to sell them to celebrity Web site TMZ and posting the videos online, the FBI said in a statement. Several TV networks and newspapers aired brief clips or printed screen grabs from the videos in July.
Barrett, 48, was arrested after returning from a trip to Buffalo, N.Y., authorities said. He’s scheduled to make an initial court appearance Saturday morning in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
The charges were filed in Los Angeles, where TMZ is based and where Andrews first became aware of the videos. She is identified in the federal complaint as E.A.
Andrews’ attorney, Marshall Grossman, said he called her Friday night with news of the arrest. She was greatly relieved, he said.
"I think she’s probably sleeping more soundly tonight than she has since these videos surfaced," Grossman said.
FBI agents said seven of the eight videos posted online were taken through a modified door peephole while the 31-year-old Andrews was alone and undressed in hotel rooms in Nashville, Tenn., in September 2008.
FBI agents said they believe Barrett called many hotels to find out where Andrews was staying and requested a hotel room next to hers. Investigators said the eighth video was likely taken at another hotel, which Andrews couldn’t identify.
Agents said Barrett also made reservations at a Milwaukee hotel where she stayed in July 2008. They found her door’s peephole similarly rigged, but he didn’t check in at that hotel and the furniture in the room did not match furniture seen on the eighth video.
Barrett tried to sell the videos to TMZ, but an employee there informed Andrews’ attorneys, according to the complaint.
FBI agents matched information in the e-mail to Barrett. The account used to post the videos to a Web site that features nude women also was used to upload videos taken of other naked women in hotel rooms, the complaint said.
A message left at a phone listing for a Michael D. Barrett in Westmont, Ill., wasn’t immediately returned Friday night.
Andrews has covered hockey, college football, college basketball and Major League Baseball for the network since 2004, often as a sideline reporter during games.
A former dance team member at the University of Florida, Andrews was named "sexiest sportscaster" by Playboy magazine in both 2008 and 2009. She has been referred to as "Erin Page views" because of the traffic that video clips and photos of her generate, and Playboy magazine named her "sexiest sportscaster" in both 2008 and 2009.
"This is clearly welcome news," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said of the arrest. "Our thoughts and support continue to be with Erin, who has demonstrated tremendous strength and determination."
The federal complaint said Andrews felt ashamed and embarrassed and has had trouble sleeping and breathing because of the videos. She’s also worried that more secretly taped footage will surface, the complaint said.
Grossman said Friday night that the videos appeared to have been taped by a serial stalker who followed Andrews from city to city.
"He wasn’t an accidental tourist," he said. "He had her in his sights."
Grossman has said she plans to seek criminal charges and file civil lawsuits against the person who shot the video footage and anyone who publishes the material.
Andrews, in an appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" last month, said she thought her career was over once the nude footage of her began circulating on the Internet.
"I kept screaming: ‘I’m done. My career is over. I’m done. Get it off. Get it off the Internet,"’ she said as she remembered talking to her father. "They thought I was physically injured, (that’s) how bad I was screaming."
Andrews returned to the air Sept. 3 as the sideline reporter for ESPN’s broadcast of South Carolina at North Carolina State. She is scheduled to work the Auburn-Tennessee game Saturday night in Knoxville, Tenn.