ESPN said Tuesday night that it never wavered in its support for Erin Andrews after a stalker posted nude videos of her online.
Andrews, who now works for Fox Sports, finished testifying Tuesday in her $75 million lawsuit against the convicted stalker as well as the owner and manager of a Marriott hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, where she was staying when some of the video was recorded. She was covering a college football game for ESPN at the time.
Andrews — who said several times Monday and Tuesday that the videos traumatized her and nearly destroyed her career — testified that after the video was posted in July 2009, ESPN ordered her to give an on-air interview to address rumors that she'd OK'd them as a publicity stunt.
"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 a sit-down interview,'" she said. "And that was the only way I was going to be allowed back."
Andrews gave an emotional interview to Oprah Winfrey in August 2009 and soon was back on the air at ESPN.
ESPN didn't address Andrews' specific remarks, but in a statement Tuesday night, it told NBC News:
"Developments in the case have been interpreted by some to mean that ESPN was unsupportive of Erin in the aftermath of her ordeal. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have been and continue to be supportive of Erin."
Andrews' lawyers rested their case Tuesday.
The hotel company contends that the stalker, Michael David Barrett, is solely responsible for any suffering Andrews underwent. Barrett was sentenced to 2½ years in prison for stalking Andrews and shooting the videos through altered hotel room peepholes.
Seeking to establish that the incident didn't damage Andrews' performance or earnings, Marc Dedman, a lawyer for Marriott, noted that Andrews had become host of "Dancing With the Stars," become Fox's top NFL sideline reporter and signed multiple endorsement deals — all after the videos were published.
Dedman then asked: "Your income has gone up substantially since this happened ..." before Andrews' lawyers objected. He rephrased the question, asking, "You have done very well in your career since this happened?" Andrews replied, "Yes."
Marriott's lawyers also introduced videotaped testimony by Patrick Donaher, ESPN's senior talent evaluator at the time.
Donaher testified that in his judgment the incident seriously rattled Andrews but that she was always professional and maintained her high on-air standards. He said the network strongly wanted to keep her when she left for Fox Sports in 2012.