An attorney for sportscaster Erin Andrews said Friday that two hotel companies enabled a stalker who took nude videos of her and posted them online.
Bruce Broillet told jurors Friday in closing arguments for a civil trial that Andrews has suffered public shame and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the crime and the companies ought to pay.
He said that had it not been for the actions of people affiliated with the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt, stalker Michael David Barrett would not have been able to do what he did.
Barrett has pleaded guilty to stalking Andrews in three cities and altering peepholes in hotel rooms in Nashville and Columbus, Ohio, to shoot nude videos of the sportscaster. In a video deposition played before the jury, Barrett said he altered hotel room peepholes in such a way so that he could pull them out and use his cellphone camera to shoot video through the open hole.
The hotel is a franchise. An attorney who represents the owner, West End Hotel Partners, and former operator, Windsor Capital Group, said the companies should not be blamed for what Barrett did.
“We concede that Ms. Andrews is a victim of a crime, a terrible disgusting crime by Mr. Barrett,” attorney Marc Dedman told jurors.
But he said Barrett went to great lengths to stalk the TV host, following her to multiple cities and altering peepholes in multiple hotels. He said the companies could not have foreseen that somebody would be able to alter peepholes on room doors to secretly shoot nude videos of guests.
Dedman also said Andrews’ continued rise in her career and testimony shows that she is a resilient person who did not suffer severe emotional distress.
Andrews is currently working for Fox Sports and is co-host of the TV show “Dancing with the Stars.”
She testified that she threw herself into her work after she discovered that nude videos of her were on the Internet, but said they still haunt her and she remains depressed, anxious and fearful as a result of the stalking.
Her lawyer evoked the name of Robin Williams, the actor and comedian who seemed so jovial but committed suicide.
“We have to recognize that the people that we see on TV like Erin also have a personal life and sometimes that personal life is much more challenging than when they light up in front of a camera,” Broillet told jurors.
There has been conflicting testimony in the case on whether someone at the hotel revealed Andrews’ room number to the stalker and then honored Barrett’s request to be put in an adjacent room.
Andrews filed a $75 million lawsuit against him and the companies.
Barrett didn’t bother showing up for trial. On Friday, Circuit Court Judge Hamilton Gayden found him responsible for the stalking and the videos. Jurors will begin deliberating today on whether the companies should be also faulted and on how much damages the sportscaster should be paid.
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