By Julia Rivera, Columnist
Having a stalker — whether it be a male or female — is always frightening. But in the male-dominated world of sports, female sportscasters are all too often the subjects of male stalkers. Reporter Erin Andrews settled a lawsuit last week for $55 million against her stalker Michael David Barrett and the companies that manage the Nashville Marriott responsible for invading Andrews’s privacy.
In 2008, Barrett used a hacksaw to alter the peepholes of Andrews’s hotel rooms in Nashville, Tennessee and Columbus, Ohio. He recorded her while she was naked and unaware, and the film was viewed by 17 million people.
When female sportscasters are harassed in their hotel rooms while on assignment, there is only one way the stalkers are able to find the reporter: the hotel itself.
Andrews argued that the hotel should have told her that a man had inquired if she was staying at the hotel.
“This could’ve been stopped,” she testified. “The Nashville Marriott could’ve just called me and said, ‘We’re putting this man that requested to be next to you, is this O.K.?’ And I would’ve called the cops and we would’ve gotten him. I’m so angry. I’m so mad.”
Many people don’t think the hotel in Andrews’s case should be held in any way responsible for the actions of Barrett, but the judge made the right decision in making the companies pay a total of $27 million in damages.
This is not the first time a female sportscaster faced harassment by a crazed fan. For example, in 1988 while working for NFL Films, Andrea Kremer was in her hotel room when a man called her late at night. The hotel traced the call to inside the building. Scared for her safety, security was stationed outside her room.
Women should not have to feel the need to take precautions when staying in a hotel — asking the clerks not to say their name loudly during check-in, avoiding elevators filled with glaring male eyes and opting for private transportation late at night — yet they do.
People following reporters is inevitable, but it’s possible for female reporters to stay safe if a hotel respects their privacy.
Those who criticize the court’s decision to also hold the Andrews’ hotel responsible are ridiculous. The hotels she stayed in are the reason why 17 million people have seen her naked body.
“It’s important that when we walk into hotels or any public building that says they’re going to take care of us,” juror Terry Applegate said, “ that they take care of us and we feel safe and secure in their environment and this hotel did not do that.”
There are others who say Andrews was looking for money when she filed suit. Andrews doesn’t need any more money. She is already worth about $3 million.
When she won her case, she won for all women who work in the sports media industry. She set an example for those to come. She, like other women, was the victim of a sick pervert. But, unlike other women, she had the means to take a stand against it and did so.