ESPN's Erin Andrews lobbies for tougher anti-stalking laws
Erin Andrews appeared in Washington, D.C. to advocate for tougher anti-stalking laws. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)Most celebvocates, for all their sincerity and star power, come to Washington with just a fleeting connection to their cause. Erin Andrews, who came to the Hill Tuesday to plead for tougher stalking laws, has raw, first-hand experience.
Last year naked pictures of the ESPN sportscaster, 32, were posted on the Internet after she was videotaped through the peephole of her hotel rooms. Michael David Barrett, who rented rooms adjacent to Andrews, pleaded guilty to stalking charges and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. Two weeks ago, she filed a lawsuit against Barrett and the hotels for emotional distress and invasion of privacy.
"The public needs to learn about stalking," Andrews (blonde hair pulled in a ponytail, black dress and high heels) told reporters Tuesday. "I had no idea just how serious this crime was until it affected my life. ..... That video on the Internet will be there for the rest of my life."
Flanked by Rep. Loretta Sanchez and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the ESPN sportscaster called for passage of H.R. 5662, which adds tougher provisions and new technology to anti-stalking laws. The bill has one of those tortured acronyms to underscore the point: The "Simplifying the Ambiguous Law, Keeping Everyone Reliably Safe" aka STALKERS Act of 2010. "The problem here is that the predators are more technologically sophisticated than the laws that can be used to enforce the statues against them," said Klobuchar.
The lawmakers took great pains to remind everyone that the vast majority of stalking victims were not glamorous TV stars (like Andrews, Playboy's "Sexiest Sportscaster" two years in a row), but average citizens. The sportsbabe said she initially resisted competing on "Dancing With The Stars" for fear of appearing to exploit all the attention, but then decided she could be a role model.
"If I didn't do the show because I was worried about what people thought about me, then what kind of message does that send to other targets of stalking? ..... I could give a face to stalking and they could say, "Wow this is big time. We have to support it."