Erin Andrews' Alleged Peephole Video Stalker Arrested in Chicago

Michael David Barret is charged with taking and posting nude videos.

ByABC News
October 3, 2009, 10:11 AM

Oct. 3, 2009— -- A man accused of secretly taping and trying to sell nude videos of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews was arrested late Friday night and appeared in federal court today.

After months of FBI investigation, Michael David Barrett, 47, faces federal criminal charges of interstate stalking for allegedly taking nude videos of Andrews, posting them on the Internet and trying to sell them to celebrity Web sites such as TMZ.

The charges specifically allege that the Westmont, Ill., resident, also identified as "Mark Bennett," stalked the victim "with the intent to harass, to place under surveillance with intent to harass and intimidate, and to cause substantial emotional distress to a person in another state."

Barrett does not have a history of sexual offenses or serious crimes, other than charges of driving under the influence in 1988 and some speeding tickets, according to an ABC News background check. Barrett, who is currently employed at a suburban Chicago insurance company, has in the past held several high-level sales positions.

His attorney, Rick Beuke, told reporters today the charges against his longtime friend came as a surprise.

"I've known him for a number of years -- a great friend good man," Beuke said outside the courthouse where the hearing took place. "I've gotten calls from 30 of his friends in the last 10 hours, all willing to give their support to him if anything is needed for the purposes of securing his release. ... There's a lane that stretches around the block of people willing to support him."

Beuke, who said he got the call just today from Barrett to serve as his defense attorney, wouldn't say if the alleged stalker has any children. He did say he will be seeking a bail for Barrett's temporary release.

"He's very, you know, concerned about the allegations, obviously, as anybody who's never been in trouble before would be," Beuke said. "I don't think Mike's ever had a parking ticket before in his life so these are obviously serious allegations and they're going to be taken seriously."

The judge today decided that Barrett will remain in custody in Chicago until Monday, when another hearing will be held to determine if Barrett will travel in custody to California or be allowed to travel without U.S. Marshalls.

The U.S. Attorney is asking that the suspect travel in custody to the central district of California to be arraigned.

The complaint against Barrett was filed in Los Angeles, where Andrews is based.

The alleged Peeping Tom, who was arrested at Chicago O'Hare Airport, is accused of taping Andrews on two separate occasions without her knowledge while she was changing clothes. The suspect allegedly made eight separate videos and then posted them on the Internet in July.

"I hope that today's action will help the countless others who have been similarly victimized," Andrews, 31, said in a written statement. "For my part, I will make every effort to strengthen the laws on a state and federal level to better protect victims of criminal stalking. I am also grateful to those who have expressed their concerns and good wishes for my family and me."

Authorities do not believe Barrett has any connections to Andrews, but said that he went the extra mile to be close to her and had stalked her on several occasions while she was on assignment.

The FBI said one of the occasions was in Nashville, Tenn., where he requested to stay in the hotel room next to Andrews. Barrett is suspected to have taken videos from his cell phone through the peephole in the reporter's door. According to the criminal complaint, the length of the peephole in the door was shortened to make it easier to remove it quickly and easily without making much noise.

The second videotaping incident took place in a Milwaukee hotel, authorities said, though Barrett never checked in at the hotel there. Officials allege the peephole on the door of Andrews' room was tampered with in a similar style to Andrews' room in the Nashville hotel.

The suspect then attempted to sell, via e-mail, the grainy videos to entertainment Web site, where an employee notified Andrews' attorney. ESPN said the e-mails were traced back to Barrett.

TMZ, which is based in Los Angeles, did not post the videos, but they did surface across the Internet on adult Web sites.

Barrett faces up to five years in prison if he is convicted of interstate stalking.