Saturday, October 3, 2009

Arrest in Erin Andrews Peephole Video Case

There's been a breakthrough in the Erin Andrews peephole video case. Authorities have arrested Michael David Barrett, 48, Friday night as he arrived on a flight from Buffalo, N.Y. at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, the FBI said in a statement.

Michael David Barrett faces federal charges of interstate stalking for recording the Erin Andrews peephole video, which appears to have been taken at more than one location. Additionally, he is charged trying to sell them to celebrity Web site TMZ and actually posting the videos online.

You'll recall that a video of ESPN's admittedly hot sideline reporter, Erin Andrews, taken via a peephole, was released to the web in February, though it didn't come to the public's attention until July. Ironically, the publicity over the video really hit when ESPN issued a takedown notice for the video.

The FBI stated that while they were unable to identify the eighth location where the Erin Andrews peephole videos were taken, seven of the eight videos posted online were taken through a modified door peephole while the 31-year-old Andrews was alone and disrobed in hotel rooms in Nashville, TN, in September of 2008. They believe David Michael Barrett called hotels until he discovered where Andrews was staying and then requested a hotel next to hers.

I have to ask why did this not raise a red flag with any hotel employees? And why would anyone at said hotels simply say, OK, we'll give you the room next to hers?

David Michael Barrett allegedly tried to sell the Erin Andrews peephole videos to TMZ, but an employee there informed Andrews' attorneys, according to the FBI. Showing Barrett wasn't too bright, in terms of cybercrime, or he would have expected if he used his own computer they might be able to track the IP address and email address back to him, which in fact they did.

The FBI also confirmed that the Erin Andrews peephole videos were likely recorded from a cell phone camera. That certainly explains the graininess of the videos, which in reality were barely worth watching (indeed, I saw them).

David Michael Barrett faces up to five years in federal prison if convicted. That seems rather light, but reports are that Erin Andrews will seek civil charges in the peephole video case, against both Barrett and those who published the videos.

In a press release, Erin Andrews said the following:
"I am deeply grateful to Assistant United States Attorney Wes Hsu and Special Agents for their dedicated service; and to ESPN for its support during this difficult time. I hope that today's action will help the countless others who have been similarly victimized. For my part, I will make every effort to strengthen the laws on a State and Federal level to better protect victims of criminal stalking. I am also grateful to those who have expressed their concerns and good wishes for my family and me."
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