Man accused of 'peephole hacking' ESPN star

A man is arrested in the case of voyeur videos, allegedly taken by mini cameras, of ESPN presenter Erin Andrews that caused an online storm.

A man has been accused of hacking at hotel peepholes and replacing them with tiny cameras in order to shoot voyeur videos of ESPN presenter Erin Andrews in the nude.

According to the New York Post, the videos, which in July caused many males of uncertain character to risk computer virus invasion in order to view them , were allegedly shot by Michael Barrett, 48, of Westmont, Ill.

Barrett has been arrested and charged with interstate stalking. The criminal complaint states that Barrett allegedly acted "with the intent to harass, to place under surveillance with intent to harass and intimidate, and to cause substantial emotional distress to a person in another state."

Erin Andrews in happier times. CC Conspiracy of Happiness/Flickr

In announcing the arrest, FBI agents went into some detail as to the technical means by which the videos were shot. Each of the eight videos is alleged to have been shot through the peepholes of two hotel rooms in which Andrews was staying. Barrett is accused of making efforts to secure the room next to hers.

The criminal complaint contains this quote from an FBI agent: "The inner eyepiece of the peephole screws into the sleeve for the peephole. The eyepiece had been tampered with and was shortened, and it appeared to have been hack-sawed."

The FBI believes that having hacked the peepholes, Barrett allegedly used a cell phone camera or other miniature device to shoot his infamous videos, which were originally thought to have been posted on the French DailyMotion.fr site.

Someone then tried to sell the videos to the nice folks over at TMZ.com. However, being wise to the nuances of invasion of privacy, TMZ contacted the ESPN presenter's lawyers. The feds say that the e-mail address used to make the offer of sale led them to Barrett.

For her part, Andrews, who was understandably outraged by the videos, is now considering legal action against both the person who shot them and any site that published them, according to the Associated Press.

She told Oprah last month that when she learned of their appearance on the Web: "I kept screaming: 'I'm done. My career is over. I'm done. Get it off. Get it off the Internet.'"

However, she has returned to what is, for so many, her rightful role on ESPN's college football coverage.

 

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