US sports broadcaster Erin Andrews has been awarded $55 million (£39m) after she was secretly recorded nude in her hotel room by a stalker. After a day of deliberations, a jury found the stalker 51% to blame, leaving two hotel companies to pay about $27m.
Andrews, 37, a Fox Sports reporter, was filmed in 2008 through her hotel door peephole by Michael David Barrett, who released the video online. She wept as the verdict was announced and hugged her attorneys and family.
Later, in a statement posted on Twitter, she thanked the court, the jury, and her legal team and family. I’ve been honoured by all the support from victims around the world, she said.
Their outreach has helped me be able to stand up and hold accountable those whose job it is to protect everyone’s safely, security and privacy. Andrews sued Barratt and the two companies behind the Nashville hotel at which she was filmed for $75m (£53m).
Barrett, a Chicago insurance company executive, admitted targeting Andrews and said he did so to make money. He posted the footage online after celebrity gossip site TMZ refused to pay for it. Barrett pleaded guilty to stalking Andrews, altering hotel room peepholes and taking nude videos of her. He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
It was then up to a jury to decide if the hotel owner, West End Hotel Partners, and former operator, Windsor Capital Group, should share in the blame. During closing arguments, Andrews’ lawyers alleged that Barrett tried to take all of the blame in an attempt to deprive her of any money from the suit.
It ripped me apart. Andrews said the stalking left her fearful, anxious and depressed.
She told the jury that she had become so cautious that she checks for hidden cameras in hotel air conditioners and changes rooms fearful of being recorded.
I felt embarrassed, humiliated, mortified because of the video, she said during a testimony in which she repeatedly broke down. Andrews said one of the most difficult moments came when there was speculation that she had released the video herself to get attention.
Everybody put up that I was doing it for publicity and attention and that ripped me apart, she said in tears. In a video played in court, Barrett said the reason he picked Andrews was because she was popular.