Erin Andrews' Sexual Abuse Case Just Took a Disgusting Turn

March 3rd 2016

Taylor Bell

The peeping Tom trial brought by sportscaster Erin Andrews took another unsettling turn on Wednesday, proving yet again the difficulties faced by women who seek justice after being sexually harassed.

Andrews — who is suing Marriott Hotels for accepting the reservations of a man who filmed her naked through her hotel door's peephole — saw her trial paused on Wednesday after one of the defense's witnesses was caught allegedly watching the very video that sparked the lawsuit, according to various reports.

Per tweets posted by Nashville waitress Nicole Branigan, Marriott representative Neal Peskind was watching and loudly commenting on the nude video Tuesday, after he had testified in court earlier in the week.

Nicole Branigan tweets

Branigan said she alerted the media because she "saw something I thought was wrong."

According to Branigan, Peskind showed friends the video and ridiculed Andrews body. Apparently, he wasn't impressed with the reporter's looks, allegedly saying "she doesn't deserve the money because of her body."

Shortly after Branigan's tweets, an attorney for Peskind released a statement denying that his client was the one who showed friends the video. When confronted by reporters directly, Peskind also denied his involvement.

Andrews filed a $75 million lawsuit against Marriott International for taking the room reservations of Michael David Barrett, who asked specifically to be booked next door to Andrews on three separate occasions. Barrett, who pled guilty to stalking in 2010, admitted to filming Andrews through her peephole while she was naked. He then posted one of the videos recorded at the Nashville Marriott, after unsuccessfully attempting to sell it to TMZ. According to court testimony, the naked footage of Andrews still lives online and has been viewed by 17 million people.

Andrews' Ordeal Highlights The Trauma of Sexual Harassment Trials For Victims

Earlier this week, Andrews gave an emotional testimony about how the naked video and images of herself continue to haunt her.

"I feel so ashamed," Andrews said. "This happens every day of my life. Either I get a tweet or someone makes a comment in the paper or somebody sends me a still of the video to my Twitter or someone screams it at me in the stands, and I'm right back to this. I feel so embarrassed and I feel so ashamed."


Andrews added that she was originally accused of creating the video herself to promote her career.

"Probably for like three months, everybody thought it was a publicity stunt," Andrews said. "The front page of the New York Post said 'ESPN Scandal.'"

In addition, the defense attempted to credit the video for Andrews' flourishing career, noting that she secured subsequent contracts with ESPN, FOX and several endorsers after the video was leaked, according to court transcripts reported by NY Daily News.

This all points to the prevalence of victim-shaming in society.

Scenarios like the one faced by Andrews highlight why victims of sexual harassment or abuse are often reluctant to seek legal retribution.

In cases of sexual assault "it is believed that only 15.8 to 35 percent of all sexual assaults cases are reported," according to the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Due in part to low reporting rates, only 9 percent of rapists get prosecuted and only five percent lead to a felony conviction, according to Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

As ATTN: previously reported, in February pop singer Kesha was denied a court injunction that would have dissolved her contract with Dr. Luke, a man who allegedly sexually assaulted her for years. Although most of the music community supported her, she faced some backlash from television personality Wendy Williams. In a segment on her TV show, Williams showed no sympathy for the singer.

"She wasn't stupid ten years ago, neither was her mother, when the alleged sexual abuse started," Williams said. "Why weren't they rolling camera on it? You know, a camera up in the wig? Men are so stupid, that if you're sexually abusing us, it's so easy to catch you."