There’s good reason Erin Andrews was a bit tearful when on the stand Monday in her civil trial against the Marriott hotel.
After a stalker released nude footage of the sportscaster in her hotel room, leading to a $75 million lawsuit against the perpetrator and the hotel, the Fox News anchor continued to be exposed -- not just in court but also, she alleges, by ESPN, her former employer.
According to Monday’s testimony, ESPN required she do a televised sit-down interview regarding the 2009 incident before going back on air. The television giant wanted her to deny the scandal, Andrews said, stating “everybody” thought it was a publicity stunt until an arrest was finally made, according to Deadspin.
“Probably for like three months, everybody thought it was a publicity stunt,” she says in her testimony. “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.”
Wanting to get back out on the field, Andrews agreed to do an intensive sit-down interview in 2009 with Oprah Winfrey. It was so stressful, the news anchor said she developed a rash.
Here’s how she described the experience when she took the stand, via Deadspin:
“We went, I wanted nothing to do with it. I was in the office, or her green room, and I was sitting there and I was just bawling at my parents. “It’s Oprah Winfrey, how do you not want to see her?” And 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, in her slippers, and her butterfly eyelashes. I didn’t have time to get up out of the chair, and 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.”
Michael David Barrett, the stalker who filmed Andrews changing, was arrested in October 2009, a month before the Oprah interview aired. Barrett had followed the journalist to the hotel where he requested a room next to hers so he could videotape Andrews through a peephole he made in their shared wall. Strapped for cash, he planned on selling it in hopes it would go viral.
He’s since been sentenced to 30 months of jail time.
“That ripped me apart,” Andrews says in her testimony, according to The Washington Post. “I’m so angry. This could have been stopped.”
Earlier in the trial, it was estimated the video has probably been viewed nearly 17 million times.
"I think about it every day," Andrews testified today, according to People. "One of the worst thoughts I have is when I walk around a stadium ... there's always that thought, as I walk right by the stands, and I think, 'My God, everyone in this stadium has seen that video.'"
Following Monday’s statement, ESPN issued the following comment:
"Developments in the case have been interpreted by some to mean that ESPN was unsupportive of Erin in the aftermath of her ordeal. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have been and continue to be supportive of Erin."