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An insurance salesman living in Illinois has been charged with taking (and attempting to sell) the hotel peephole videos of ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews. Michael David Barrett has been arrested and charged with interstate stalking.
Federal prosecutors have alleged that Barrett stalked Andrews across multiple states and on more than one occasion booked a hotel room in the same place she stayed.
Though prosecutors claim his conduct included physically following the sportscaster across state lines, they charge that Barrett's alleged use of his cellular phone to take and send the videos, along with his emails offering to sell the videos to online gossip magazine TMZ.com, violated the federal law against interstate stalking.
So, what exactly is interstate stalking?
Someone violates the federal law against interstate stalking:
This is a felony offense under which Barrett could face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Today, Barrett was released on bail. He will face trial in Los Angeles.
In Barrett's case, authorities charge that he used interstate cellular phone networks, email and websites with the intent to place Andrews under surveillance, harass her, and cause her substantial emotional distress, and that his actions did in fact cause her substantial emotional distress.
As detailed in the complaint, Andrews' lawyer was contacted sometime after TMZ received an offer to sell the videos. According to the charges, investigators tracked the videos to Barrett through the attempted sale, which came to TMZ from the email address "firstname.lastname@example.org."
Prosecutors believe Barrett was behind email@example.com. They allege that his cellular phone records show multiple multimedia messages sent from his phone to the email address. They also allege that the email account was repeatedly accessed through Barrett's home Comcast internet service.
Barrett allegedly booked and stayed in the Tennessee hotel where most of the videos are believed to have been taken. Barrett allegedly made a special request to stay in the room next to Andrews, which is noted in the hotel's records.
Prosecutors claim that the peephole in Andrews' room in Tennessee was modified with a hacksaw in order to allow cell phone video recording through it. They maintain that the same thing happened to the peephole in a Milwaukee hotel room where Andrews had stayed, and where Barrett allegedly booked a room for the same night.
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