Erin Andrews took the stand Monday in her $75 million lawsuit against the Nashville hotel where she was surreptitiously filmed while nude in her room, a suit that also targets the hotel’s corporate owners and the man who spent 30 months in jail for filming her and uploading the footage to the Internet. Andrews grew tearful several times while she recounted her reaction to the events 2008 and 2009, of which she said that she “could not believe this was happening.”

While Andrews currently works for Fox Sports and ABC, an episode she described while on the stand raises questions for ESPN, her employer at the time of the events. According to Andrews, the sports network would not let her return to her job as a sideline reporter until she sat for an on-air interview, all the better to dispel suspicions that she had staged the whole thing in order to gain greater publicity.

In addition, ESPN suggested that the venue for Andrews’s interview be “Good Morning America” on ABC, one of its sister networks. Instead, she chose to go on Oprah Winfrey’s show, because she understood that the daytime TV superstar had her own experiences of sexual abuse.

From an account of Andrews’s testimony Monday by Entertainment Tonight:

“Because there wasn’t an arrest, because we didn’t know where this happened, my bosses at ESPN told me, ‘Before you go back on-air for college football, we need you to give us a sit-down interview,’ ” Andrews said. “That was the only way I was going to be allowed back.
“They were highly recommending it be ‘GMA,’ because ESPN and ABC are the same and they wanted it on ‘GMA,’ but like my dad had said the other day, I didn’t want it to be a two-second thing,” she continued. “No, this is my life and I feel terrible about myself, and we want to figure out how this happened.” …
“I talked to [Winfrey’s] producers,” Andrews said. “I told her I didn’t want to do it, but this was the only way I was going to be put back on air.”

Here is a clip of Winfrey’s interview with Andrews, which aired in 2009:

ESPN declined to comment on Andrews’s testimony, to both Entertainment Tonight and Deadspin. But the network comes off as unsympathetic, at the very least, to an employee dealing with an extremely upsetting, ongoing situation, as well as unwilling to grant her the benefit of the doubt.

On Monday, Andrews told the Nashville courtroom that she was deeply pained by notions that she had orchestrated the video. “That ripped me apart,” she told jurors in Davidson County Circuit Court (via NBC News). “I’m so angry. This could have been stopped.”

Earlier in the court proceedings, which began last week, the jury was shown the footage, at which point Andrews emotionally left the room. A computer science professor offered what was described as a conservative estimate that 16.8 million people, a number that increases every day, have viewed some or all of the Peeping Tom video.

In a recorded deposition that was shown to the jury on Monday, Michael David Barrett, the man who shot the footage and allowed it to go viral, said that he had planned on selling it for much-needed cash. Barrett said that the only reason he chose to stalk Andrews was because he saw that she was trending on Yahoo.