Arrest made in stalking of ESPN's Andrews

CHICAGO (AP) - October 3, 2009 Michael David Barrett, 47, of Westmont, Ill., was being held in jail over the weekend while awaiting a judge's decision Monday on whether he will go to Los Angeles as a federal prisoner or free on bail.

Barrett, clad in the bright orange jumpsuit of a federal prisoner, made a brief initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys after being arrested Friday night by FBI agents at O'Hare International Airport.

"I don't think he's even had a traffic ticket," said his lawyer, Rick Beuke. "He's as regular a guy as you'll ever meet - a great friend," said the attorney, who said he had known Barrett for a decade. "I must have calls from 30 people wanting to know what they could do to help."

Beuke said Barrett had been divorced for some time and had children. A neighbor in Westmont, Srividhya Viswanath, 36, a homemaker, said Barrett lived quietly in a townhome complex with a female companion. She said she never got to know them well in part because they traveled frequently.

A spokeswoman for the Combined Insurance Company of America confirmed that Barrett was an employee who worked in sales management. Amy Burrell-Tichy said the company was cooperating with the FBI.

Barrett faces charges of interstate stalking for allegedly taking videos of Andrews in her hotel rooms while she was covering sporting events, trying to sell them to celebrity Web site TMZ and posting the videos online. The charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The charges were filed in Los Angeles, where TMZ is based. Beuke said he did not discuss the particulars of the charges when he met briefly with Barrett, surrounded by FBI agents, in court. He said he would study the FBI affidavit and try to meet with Barrett on Sunday to learn more.

Several TV networks and newspapers had aired clips or printed screen grabs from the videos of Andrews in July. The 31-year-old has covered hockey, college football, college basketball and Major League Baseball for ESPN since 2004 and was named "sexiest sportscaster" by Playboy magazine in 2008 and 2009.

Asked how Barrett had gotten interested in Andrews, if the allegations are true, or how he managed to get the adjacent hotel rooms, Beuke said he assumed it was not true. Chicago FBI spokesman Ross Rice said he did not know how Barrett allegedly became interested in Andrews.

An FBI affidavit said agents had reviewed eight videos and all but one had appeared to be taken in a single hotel. It said Andrews had reviewed several and said they appeared to be of her in a room at the Marriott Nashville at Vanderbilt University.

Authorities said Barrett had occupied an adjacent room, and that the peephole in the door of Andrews' room appeared to have been modified with a hacksaw to permit videos to be made with a cellphone camera.

Agents also went to the Ramada Conference Center in Milwaukee, formerly the Radisson Airport. The affidavit said Barrett had made a reservation in the hotel for a night when Andrews was staying there and that the peephole in the room that she occupied had been similarly modified.

But they said Barrett had never checked in, and the interior of the room did not fully match what was seen on the eighth video. Wyndam Worldwide Corp., which owns Ramada, and Marriott International Inc. did not immediately return calls for comment. The affidavit said that in making his reservation in Nashville, Barrett specifically requested a room next to Andrews, who was referred to in the FBI document as "individual A."

Reservation records in the hotel's computer showed the notation: "INFO-GST RQST TO RM NXT TO (individual A)," the affidavit said. Andrews thanked FBI agents and federal prosecutors for their work and said she hoped the case will eventually help others. "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," she said in a statement.

Andrews was scheduled to work the Auburn-Tennessee game Saturday night in Knoxville, Tenn.

Her attorney, Marshall Grossman, said the videos appeared to have been taped by a serial stalker who followed her from city to city.

"He wasn't an accidental tourist," he said. "He had her in his sights."

Barrett tried to sell the videos to TMZ, but an employee there informed Andrews' attorneys, according to the complaint.

FBI agents matched information in the e-mail to Barrett, and examined telephone records and credit card charges from Barrett's Nashville hotel stay. Agents also concluded that the videos of Andrews were likely recorded by a cell phone.

Messages left at a phone listing for a Michael D. Barrett in Westmont weren't immediately returned. Barrett's father, Frank Barrett, 78, of Milwaukie, Ore., a suburb of Portland, said Saturday morning that he hadn't yet been able to speak to his son. But he said the arrest came as a shock and the situation "does not match the Mike I know."

"He's always been an upstanding, hardworking guy," Frank Barrett said.


Associated Press Writers Raquel Maria Dillon in Los Angeles, Erin Gartner in Chicago and Sports Writer Ben Walker in New York contributed to this report.

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