Sportscaster Erin Andrews broke down in tears on the witness stand Monday as she described how a stalker secretly recorded her undressing at hotel rooms and posted the videos online.
“Probably for three months, everybody thought it was a publicity stunt,” Andrews said during testimony in a Nashville courtroom. “That ripped me apart.”
Andrews has filed a $75-million lawsuit against her stalker, Michael David Barrett, and the owner and manager of the Marriott Vanderbilt in Nashville, one of the hotels where she was recorded.
She claims the hotel allowed her stalker to request and rent the room next to hers, allowing him to record her. The hotel has denied any responsibility for Barrett’s actions.
“This could have been stopped,” Andrews said. “The Nashville Marriott could have just called me and said ‘We’re putting this man that requested to be next to you, is this OK?’ and I would have called the cops and we would have gotten him. It could have stopped this.”
Barrett, who later pleaded guilty to stalking charges and served more than 2 1/2 years in prison, said in recorded depositions that he taped Andrews undressing at hotels in Nashville and Columbus, Ohio, in 2008.
He said he decided to single Andrews out because she was popular and he thought he could make money with the videos. Barrett tried to sell the footage to TMZ, which turned him down, before posting them online in 2009.
“I just kept saying, ‘We gotta get it down. We gotta get it down.’ And we can’t get it down! And we’re never going to get it off,” Andrews said after learning of the video’s existence.
The video went viral and has been viewed by nearly 17 million people, according to a computer scientist who testified in the trial.
“I wanted to be the girl next door who loved sports, and now I’m the girl with a hotel scandal,” Andrews said.
And the harassment hasn’t stopped, she said.
“This happens every day of my life, either I get a tweet or somebody makes a comment in the paper or somebody sends me a still of the video to my Twitter or someone screams it at me in the stands and I’m right back to this,” Andrews said, sobbing. “I feel so embarrassed and I am so ashamed."
Andrews, who worked for ESPN at the time the videos were shot, is now a broadcaster with Fox Sports and the co-host of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme