Erin Andrews, a reporter and personality with FOX Sports, went to court over a nude photo leak that happened in 2008, alleging that the Marriott Hotel was at fault for allowing her stalker to take the nude pictures and videos. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the nude photo case began when Andrews, staying overnight in a Nashville Marriott, was photographed through a peephole drilled by 50-year-old Michael David Barrett, who booked the hotel room next to hers.
According to USA Today, the nude pictures of Andrews rapidly spread across the internet after Barrett released them and were impossible to control or curtail. Barrett was arrested in 2009 and pled guilty to stalking Erin Andrews and taking nude photos. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison, of which he served 27, but that punishment wasn’t enough for Andrews, who filed a civil suit against Barrett, the Marriott hotel, and the Windsor Capital Group.
Initially, her suit was filed against Mariott International, but a judge ruled that the chain was not responsible for the actions of one franchisee. Refiling, her case finally went to court this year, seeking $75 million in damages. Erin Andrews won most of it.
As per a report from the Tennessean, Andrews was awarded $55 million by a visibly-moved jury on the basis that the hotel had behaved wrongfully both in allowing the information that Erin Andrews was staying there to become public knowledge and then knowingly allowing Barrett to claim the room next to hers in the hotel. One juror, Terry Applegate, 62, described the significant reward as a message sent to the hotel industry.
“I’m happy with the result. I think it’s important the hotel industry or any public institution that has patrons coming through their doors needs to be aware, and make their security and privacy of utmost concern.”
During the trial, in which the jurors watched the four-and-a-half-minute nude video of Erin Andrews that Barrett had taken, along with other footage, it was revealed that he had first attempted to sell the videos to celebrity gossip site TMZ and had then posted them freely online when TMZ refused to buy. According to testimony, the videos were watched almost 17 million times in six years.
In two days of tearful testimony, Andrews said that learning of the videos spreading across the internet had devastated her, turned her into a shell of her former self, and that she’d thrown herself entirely into her work just to convince the world that she was a professional so she wouldn’t be written off as nothing more than someone who had peephole nudes leaked.
Meanwhile, the Columbian pointed out how the defense’s argument had revolved around blaming Andrews for the leak and how this damaged their own case. Defense attorney Marc Dedman went so far as to suggest that Andrews’ career had been helped by the leak, noting that she had moved from ESPN to FOX since and had landed a number of endorsement deals.
“I feel so ashamed,” said Andrews during her testimony.
Her father added, “She’s afraid. She’s afraid of crowds, afraid of people. She doesn’t trust anymore.”
But the defense’s argument revolved around suggesting that she was better off, probably because Dedman knew that his clients had no actual defense.
Bruce Broillet, a member of Andrews’ legal team, called her “a true American hero” following the trial, saying that she had “shown phenomenal courage in standing up for security, safety, and privacy.”
Meanwhile, it’s unlikely that Andrews will ever see a penny of at least the 51 percent of the verdict that Barrett is responsible for. Since leaving prison, he’s been living in his father’s basement in Portland, Oregon, and is unable to pay.
But most say that this case wasn’t ever about the money — it’s about sending a message about privacy and women’s rights.
[Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images]