ESPN Forced Erin Andrews To Talk About Her Stalker On National TV
Fox Sports broadcaster and Dancing With The Stars co-host Erin Andrews testified in court on Saturday for her civil suit against the Nashville hotel where she was videotaped by a stalker through a hotel room peephole.
On July 16, 2009, a video of a naked Andrews was posted to the internet. Nearly three months later, Michael David Barrett was arrested for creating the video and was sentenced to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to interstate stalking. In his original 2009 testimony, Barrett detailed how he requested the room next to Andrews, then used a hacksaw to remove the peep hole in her hotel room door and replace it with a plug. It was through that altered hole that he filmed her in a state of undress after showering.
Unsurprisingly, she broke down in tears at several points during her recounting of the incident and the months that followed, explaining that a blogger friend of hers was the one to call and inform her of the video that was circulating the internet that claimed to show her naked in a hotel room.
In a video of Andrews' testimony she can be seen fighting tears as she describes the fallout of what was being referred to as a "scandal" at the time.
“Probably for like three months, everybody thought it was a publicity stunt," Andrews explained while visibly trying not to cry. "The front page of the New York Post said ‘ESPN Scandal.’ To Fox News and CBS, everybody put up that I was doing it for publicity and attention, and that ripped me apart.”
Andrews went on to reveal that ESPN forced to her to discuss the issue on national TV before she would be allowed to return to her work, which at the time was sideline reporting for ESPN's college football coverage. She explains that she was adamant that she not have to talk about the ordeal on live television after already having been humiliated and violated, but her bosses insisted that she could not return to her broadcasting duties until she'd addressed the situation in a sit-down interview.
"Because there wasn’t an arrest, because we didn’t know where this happened, my bosses at ESPN told me, 'before you go back on air for college football we need you to give a sit-down interview.' And that was the only way I was going to be allowed back."
"They were highly recommending it be GMA [Good Morning America], because ESPN and ABC are the same, and they wanted it on GMA. But like my dad had said the other day, I didn’t want it to be a two second thing where it’s like, Was this a scandal, or, was it not?' No, this is my life, and I feel terrible about myself, and we want to figure out how this happened. So, I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t want to be a part of it, and I just said, you know what, 'I know because she’s very public about it, Oprah [Winfrey] is a crime victim.' I talked to her producers, I told her I didn’t want to do it. But this was the only way I was going to be put back on air, so we went to the Oprah show."
Andrews went on to testify that she was so horrified about the interview that she had a meltdown beforehand during which Oprah actually came in help calm her down, and that she broke out in a rash while taping it.
"I was in the office, or her green room, and I was sitting there and I was just bawling at my parents...I was just freaking out, and I just said 'I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this. I just want to go back to college football. I don’t want to talk about what happened to me, why can’t I just be normal? Like, why can’t I go back?' ”
"I think her producer had heard me crying, and all of a sudden in walked Oprah...she walked over to me, and I was hysterical. And she said, 'I’ve got you, you’re safe here. I’ll take care of you.' And I did the interview."
Wow. ESPN has done some seriously shady stuff in the past, and they certainly aren't known for treating their female employees with a whole lot of decency but this has to be one of their more vicious misdeeds. It's obvious that Andrews is still traumatized by the entire ordeal nearly six and a half years later; as anyone would be.
So there's no doubt that at the time that all of this was still going on, her distress would've been extremely evident. Even if she hadn't shown outward signs of anguish, no one who has had a crime committed against them should ever be required by an employer to explain themselves to the public; regardless of vicious rumors from competitors.
Forcing a woman to go on national television and prove to the world that she's a victim is malicious at best; and vigorously misogynist at worst. So of course that's what ESPN did.
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