This week in a Los Angeles courtroom Michael David Barrett pleaded guilty to one count of interstate stalking as a result of his activity related to Erin Andrews of ESPN. He faces up to five years in prison.
Andrews spoke in court as part of the pre-sentencing procedure designed to educate the judge about the extent of the personal damage suffered by victim.
Among her courtroom comments were revelations about how she continues to suffer trauma, feel shame and humiliation as well as absorb vulgar and cold-hearted epithets from "fans" on site at games she works.
Andrews' stalker followed her from city to city on her business trips managing to videotape her while he was checked in to the room next to her. Nude video of her was posted on the Internet by a mainstream publication.
And now it seems that attendees at ball games she covers yell things at her that indicate they think she knew she was being violated and enjoyed it. While I know that people can be cruel and I've seen many blog posts and comments on the posts that allege Andrews brought this crime on herself by looking sexy on the sidelines, the fact that people abuse her at her job is abominable in my opinion.
Tiger Woods is going to hear ridicule and taunts when he returns to the golf course. Who knows, maybe he'll get that when he walks around in his day-to-day life. But he was the actor in his own downfall.
Andrews checked into hotel rooms like most of us have done and did the things we're supposed to do behind closed doors, like shower, dress, undress. sleep and talk on the phone. The fact that she wasn't clothed at certain times while in her room cannot be a reason to call her hideous names.
Andrews believed as we all do, that we are moderately safe while we go about our daily life. To find that someone stalked her is the reason for her continued trauma. Ask any victim of the same crime how long it takes to feel safe in public or even behind locked doors.
A stunning revelation by a long time Washington Post sports columnist, Tracee Hamilton about her struggle to recover from being stalked is worth noting. It took decades for her to feel comfortable enough to tell her story. You can read it here.
The fact that nude photos were the end result of the crime against Andrews rather than rape or murder doesn't mitigate the fear. Would he have ramped up his intentions to include those hideous crimes? We'll never know but you can bet that is what eats at Andrews.
Men who don't understand that feeling of vulnerability can't be faulted since they are raised to be brave and shake off fears. But they can be castigated for being insensitive to Andrews.
I'd ask those men to think of their mothers, sisters, romantic partners or even grandmothers being showered with vulgarities and ridicule after being a victim of a crime, any crime.
Live with that one for a while and see if you can let Erin Andrews do her job while taking her long road to recovery.
Paula covers national sports stories on Examiner.com
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