ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews has filed an invasion of privacy lawsuit against several hotels – including The Ohio State University's on-campus Blackwell Inn – for allegedly giving out her information to a man who later admitted he filmed her in the nude through her hotel door peephole.
The civil suit was filed June 15 in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago. In it, Andrews claims someone with either the university or its joint venture partner, Preferred Hotel Group, Inc., confirmed her reservation at The Blackwell to Michael David Barrett when he called the Columbus, Ohio hotel in January 2008.
The suit further alleges The Blackwell allowed Barrett to rent a room next to Andrews, and that he used the opportunity to tamper with her door's peephole, allowing him to shoot footage of her dressing and undressing without her knowledge.
Ohio State University refutes the allegations made in the lawsuit, Ohio State's Media Relations Director Jim Lynch told Money College.
"The university disagrees with Ms. Andrews' claims and we will defend our actions throughout the court process," Jim Lynch said in an e-mail.
The upscale, 151-bed hotel is the only one on Ohio State's campus and is managed through a special arrangement between its Fisher College of Business, and the Hospitality and Conference Services portion of the university's Office of Student Affairs, according to Lynch. The lawsuit does not name or accuse any individual professional or student staff members at the hotel, but claims Ohio State and Preferred violated her privacy when they allegedly gave out her information.
Barrett, a former Illinois insurance executive, pled guilty to federal interstate stalking charges in December 2009 and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison, according to court documents. He also admitted to calling seven other Columbus hotels to find where Andrews would be staying, and posted several nude videos of the reporter online, including the video made at The Blackwell. Andrews has blasted Barrett as "a sexual predator" who should "never see the light of day."
Andrews is also suing the Radisson Hotel Milwaukee Airport in Wisconsin and the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. and their associated parent companies, claiming they similarly provided Barrett her information. He pled guilty to stalking her at both hotels in federal court.
The 13-count civil lawsuit claims negligence, negligent infliction of emotional stress and invasion of privacy against the hotels and Barrett himself, and seeks damages of at least $50,000 per count. In a statement about the suit, the sportscaster and "Dancing with the Stars" contestant said she hopes the lawsuit ultimately protects other hotel guests.
"Although I'll never be able to fully erase the impact that this invasion of privacy has had upon me and my family, I do hope that my experience will cause the hospitality industry to be more vigilant in protecting its guests from the time they reserve a hotel room until they check out," Andrews said.
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