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When the infamous Erin Andrews peephole video shot into the media stratosphere in July, her lawyers' vow that the creep(s) behind the illegal footage seemed frankly like raking leaves on a windy day. Of all the random hotel rooms in random cities Andrews has occupied in her travels as ESPN sideline reporter and matron saint of blog traffic over the last few years, of all the thousands and thousands of copies of the clip that flew around every corner of the Web in every possible format, what chance did time and resource-strapped authorities have of actually zeroing in on and tracking down the original perpetrator?

A very good chance, as it turns out, now that at least one suspect accused of attempting to hawk the E.A. footage is in handcuffs and awaiting a court appearance this morning in Chicago:

Michael David Barrett, 48, was arrested Friday at O'Hare International Airport after being named in a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court Los Angeles late Friday afternoon, according to a release from the Los Angeles field office of the FBI.

The FBI release does not specifically name Andrews, but identifies the victim in the case as an on-air personality with ESPN. One hotel room was believed to be in Nashville, but the FBI has not been able to identify the location of the second room where a video was shot, although records indicate Barrett booked a room at a Milwaukee hotel at the same time Andrews stayed there, according to an FBI affidavit in the case.

Barrett was found through an e-mail account used in an attempt to sell eight videos of Andrews milling about nude to TMZ.com, seven of which the FBI said were shot at a Marriott near Vanderbilt in September 2008, presumably before she was set to work Vandy's Thursday night game with South Carolina. Barrett has a date in federal court at 10 a.m. today.

He may be a creep, but Barrett is innocent until proven guilty and will have an opportunity to defend himself, etc. That said, bravo, FBI -- if nothing else, an arrest drives home Andrews' and ESPN's insistence that she's the victim of a crime, not an overblown fraternity prank, that is subject to prosecution and is not easily pulled off without significant consequences. It should also explode any remnants f the cretinous notion that "she was probably in on it, hur hur," or that the clips were shot by an ESPN colleague.

There can't be any doubt about the personal toll the case has taken on Andrews, who has always scrupulously avoided exploiting her looks, never showing up in Maxim (much less Playboy, despite its repeated overtures) or even showing flashing cleavage on the air. Readers of Deadspin, the Huffington Post and other tabloids will recall that she called 911 from her home after the story broke, distraught that the paparazzi was hounding her -- more or less trapping her in the house -- like she was "(bleeping) Britney Spears" or something. Oprah viewers will recall that Erin's first response upon recognizing herself in the video was to call her father, screaming "My career is over." To their shame, the New York Post plastered stills from the video on the front page, and Bill O'Reilly actually aired a few seconds of the clip. Terrible business.

So if they have their man, or just one of their men, he deserves the full force of the prosecutor's punch. Andrews' career is obviously not over -- after a short hiatus, she's been chasing down coaches with a microphone as ubiquitously as ever through the first month of the season -- and in fact her has been raised without losing the respect of anyone who matters because she's handled the circus with aplomb in public. On top of that, legal justice would be as thorough a resolution as you could expect.

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Hat tip: Maggie at Cagewriter.

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