NEWS

ESPN Reporter Pushes Tough Antistalking Bill

By Teresa Anderson and Matthew Harwood

Victimized ESPN reporter Erin Andrews this week urged Congress to pass antistalking legislation that would toughen sentencing for those convicted of stalking and allow law enforcement to pursue stalking undertaken via cell phone or the Internet.

"I need people to know how serious this is and that laws need to be tougher," she said at a press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday flanked by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Congresswomen Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) and Virginia Fox (R-NC). "Penalties need to be stiffened."

Andrews' activism comes after Michael Barrett, an Illinois insurance executive, was sentenced to 2½ years in prison in March for stalking the sports reporter and "Dancing With the Stars" contestant. Barret pled guilty and admitted to renting hotel rooms next to Andrews three times and then covertly recording Andrews in the nude twice through hotel peepholes with his cell phone. He later posted the videos online after trying to sell them to TMZ, a celebrity gossip site, according to the Associated Press.

The Simplifying the Ambiguous Law Keeping Everyone Reliably Safe or STALKER Act (H.R. 5662), introduced by Rep. Sanchez would broaden the definition of stalking to allow law enforcement to pursue stalking undertaken via cell phone or the Internet. The bill has already been approved by the House of Representatives, but the Senate has not announced whether it will consider the bill. Sen. Klobuchar said she would introduce a Senate version and is shopping for cosponsors to increase its likelihood of passage, reports USA Today.

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