« Previous Post | Show Tracker Home | Next Post »

NBC resolves lawsuit over 'To Catch a Predator' suicide

La_et_chris_hansen_st NEW YORK — NBC Universal has “amicably resolved” a $105-million lawsuit filed by a woman whose brother committed suicide during a taping of its controversial “Dateline NBC” series “To Catch a Predator,” both parties said today.

Bruce Baron, an attorney for Patricia Conradt, told The Times in an interview today that “the matter has been amicably resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.”

Conradt’s brother, Louis William Conradt Jr., a 56-year-old assistant county prosecutor in a Dallas suburb, shot himself in November 2006 when officers showed up at his house as part of a pedophilia sting arranged by “Dateline.”

Patricia Conradt sued NBC last July, claiming that the network interfered with police duties and then failed to protect her brother's safety.

When asked today about the status of the suit, NBC News spokeswoman Jenny Tartikoff echoed Baron, saying “the matter has been amicably resolved.”

Both sides declined to comment on when they came to agreement or the terms of the resolution. A sealed document regarding the suit was filed with the court June 3, but the case remains open, according a spokesman for the New York Southern District Court.

The resolution of the lawsuit caps a controversial chapter for “Dateline,” which drew both ratings bonanzas and sharp critiques for its “To Catch a Predator” investigations. In the segments, which NBC began airing in 2004, the newsmagazine worked with an Internet watchdog group called Perverted Justice to contact men online who were seeking to meet underage children for sex, then lure them to a house, where they were confronted on camera. Police waiting outside then arrested the men.

Media ethicists objected to the deception used in the investigation, as well as NBC’s close relationship with law enforcement agencies in the jurisdictions where it set up stings.

NBC News executives staunchly defended the “Predator” investigations but eventually concluded the series had become too highly charged to continue. “Dateline” quietly aired its 12th and final installment of “Predator” in late December.

Tartikoff said that “Dateline” is currently focused on investigative stories about national security and the economy, adding that if the newsmagazine pursues further “Predator” segments, “we want to make sure we are complementing past investigations, not just repeating them.”

Louis Conradt was one of two dozen men in the Dallas-Fort Worth area snared by the ninth “Predator” sting in the fall of 2006. He allegedly engaged in a sexually explicit online chat with a Perverted Justice member posing as a 13-year-old boy, and then an actor invited Conradt to meet him at a decoy house NBC set up in Murphy, Texas.

But Conradt did not show up at a camera-rigged house, where “Dateline” correspondent Chris Hansen and local police were waiting, outfitted with cameras provided by NBC, Hansen later told Dallas-Fort Worth television station WFAA-TV, which did its own investigation into the incident.

The next day, a "Dateline" crew and a team of officers went to find Conradt at his home in a nearby town. "Dateline" cameras taped the scene as a police tactical team forced its way into Conradt’s house. As the officers entered, Conradt shot himself with a small-caliber semi-automatic handgun. He died later at a nearby hospital.

The incident was featured in a “To Catch a Predator” segment that aired on “Dateline” in February 2007.

In her lawsuit, Patricia Conradt accused NBC of being “concerned more with its own profits than with pedophilia.”

She claimed a police officer at the scene of the shooting told a “Dateline” producer: “That’ll make good TV.”

The network said her suit was without merit.

But in February, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin ruled that the case could go forward on claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of civil rights.

Chin dismissed some causes of action but said in his ruling that the network “placed itself squarely in the middle of a police operation, pushing the police to engage in tactics that were unnecessary and unwise, solely to generate more dramatic footage for a television show.”

“A reasonable jury could find that by doing so, NBC created a substantial risk of suicide or other harm, and that it engaged in conduct so outrageous and extreme that no civilized society should tolerate it,” Chin wrote.

At the time, NBC said it planned to fight the claim, saying it had “acted responsibly and lawfully.”

“Dateline’s” Murphy sex sting failed to net any convictions. The Collin County district attorney’s office declined to pursue more than 20 cases related to the “Predator” operation, citing problems with the evidence gathered.

--Matea Gold


Photo: "To Catch a Predator" host Chris Hansen (NBC Media Village)

Comments () | Archives (149)


It's about time that NBC took responsibility for the death of Louis Conradt.

Now, it's time for Xavier Von Erck, Dennis Kerr & Alison Shea plus all volunteer baiters and decoys of Perverted-Justice to pay for the loss of life and liberty that they caused in conjunction with Dateline NBC.

Rest In Peace Louis Conradt

With NBC down for the count, we're half way there buddy and we won't stop till Perverted Justice.com is shut down.

It's a shame when a sibling can EXTORT money from a company doing JUSTICE.
If this individual was NOT GUILY, why would he TAKE HIS OWN LIFE????


Almost makes me wish I had a dead pedophile brother that I could trade in for a heaping stack o' cash!


Patricia Conradt is anything but a loser. She stood up to the unjustice that was done to her brother, and won. I don't know what the monetary settlement was, but that is beyond the point. The people who set her brother up were a bunch of non-professional, self-aggrandizing yahoos, playing off of the fears of the American public for ratings. The program was nothing but sleaze and titillation posing as "morality", and "saving the children", when, in reality, it was neither.

Patricia Conradt fought the good fight. She stood up to the sleaze-peddlers-for-profit...and she won.

Oh yeah, let's celebrate because a PROSECUTOR was soliciting children online for sex, shot himself because he knew he was being arrested, knew he was guilty, and knew his career was ruined, and now his sister gets a wad of cash to shut up and go away.

I wonder how many sex offenders Conradt put in prison? I wonder what he thought to himself as he watched those people being led off to prison knowing that he would be online that night doing the exact same thing they did?

He was a felon and a pedophile. In fact, he was a worse felon than the felons he prosecuted since he also betrayed his oath of office, his law license, and the citizens he represented.

The only justice in this story is that he's dead. Good riddance.

I never really liked to Catch A Predator. I don't not support what they are doing in terms of luring predators, but the idea of airing it on television always kinda worried me because of these people's relatives might suffer from the aftermath. It's bad enough they found out their relative is a pervert. It's not the catching of the predator that's the problem, it's the airing of it on television that makes the relatives of the predator have to deal with.

If the guy WAS truly a pedophile then he should be thanked for doing the world a favour by removing himself from ever possibly harming a child because of his severe depravity. I am a far-left individual and do not believe in the death penalty under most circumstances but I am also a father of four children and sincerely applaud the undignified end of any sick animal that would prey on any child for sex.

The problem i always had with these shows was that they never allowed for someone to make the right decision. What someone does in front of their computer and what somebody actually follows through with are two different things. This guy, while yes, a pervert, made the right choice in the end, but yet NBC and the Sheriffs Dept still went to his house to arrest him. The guy made the right choice and then was going to face a very public humiliation, one which, guilty or not, can not be recovered from.

Its easy to say that if he were not guilty he wouldn't have killed himself, but to everybody in his world, whether he had sex with a child or not, he would forever suffer from that label.

I've always been vehemently opposed to these shows and remain so. NBC is simply appealing to the lowest common denominator, something which, it would seem, they are quite good at...

If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate.
Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Oooohhhh no, this means no Perverted Justice decoy is able to comment.

It's a very sad thing. I hope that she doesn't enjoy a dime of that money. Conradt's own actions are responsible for everything that happened to him. From soliciting sex on line from someone he thought was a child, to carrying child porn on his phone, to sticking a bullet through his skull. Every single action was his, and yet it was the NBC who brought this predator to light had to pay for it. Even if the settlement was a penny, it was a penny too much.

On the bright side, he won't have the opportunity to rape children.

I wonder if Patty realizes the only reason he didn't show up to the house was because she wouldn't leave his house? Has she read what he called her? If you take that into consideration it seems that she is more responsible for her brother's death than NBC ever was.

I celebrated the program and still support perverted justice. I have teen age daughters. I think that the show had some people thinking twice before attempting to prey on young girls. That is what the justice system is about. Discouraging people from commiting illegal acts with a fear of consequences.

Great. /sarcasm

Innocent people don't eat bullets. Why should any one get any money from this? It was just a ridiculous nuisance lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Perverted-justice is catching even worse pedophiles, like the one on the FBI's top ten most wanted list:

Regardless of how repulsive pedophilia may be, it is the charge of law enforcement and our legal system to mete out justice. I never watched more than a few minutes of the series; in fact I was surprised to read how many installments had been filmed. It made me feel slimy just to see. Chris Hanson is such a smug characiture of what an investigative reporter should be. He's managed to find a spot several levels below that of Geraldo Rivera and his earth shattering reporting on Al Capone's vault. All I can say is, "eeeew."

Love the ignorant posters here who have probably never read the story. He was NOT proven to be a paedophile. The moron cops, under the direction of a publicity seeking idiot, took orders from Chris Hanson and acted, as cops always do when there's a camera around, like the pot bellied hacks they are, surrounding the house (because a 56 year old lawyer is soooo dangerous). Chris Hanson has the credibility of a pin-pricked condom. They should all rot.

NBC did not have a legal leg to stand on. And it would have been terrible publicity for their nifty tee-vee show, where they turn justice into a game of vigellanteism. But it would have been a lesson for the general public to learn what true justice is, not some game played by executives willing to use shame based techniques to boost ratings. And how many of these exectuvies go home at night and commit far more heinous acts? How I wish NBC had been hauled into court! It might have been the death-knell for these entertainment shows masquerading as truth squads. Shame on NBC and on all who take pleasure in their productions.

I thought it was a feat show and save the souls of lotsw of children. Conradt was obviously a pedophile. Too bad kids lose again. Maybe Patricia will take some of that money and help kids.

Why should anyone be held accountable for the suicide of a man willing to committ a crime against a child? Did we need to wait untl he committed the crime to avoid lawsuits? Who pays when the violated child commits suicide?

NBC did us all a favor in outing a hugly destructive force to our minor children. How can anyone dispute that. Doesn't every citizen have a right to protect our children, wherever and whenever? Would those who defend these predators' rights deny that had NBC not done what it had, at the very least, many minor children would have become victim to sexual abuse? How can they defend such degradation? It makes me sick and NBC should be applauded for forcing the issue for law enforcement to do their jobs and alerting the public to the vastness of a problem we assumed was being handled by our government.

Well, the ratings were great while it lasted, huh? The news people are supposed to report news, not make it. They also got no stinking badges. They need to get out of the way of the police and let them do all the policing, and they can get back to reporting news, if they can remember WTF it is. You know, I bet the police could even have arrested that bastard QUIETLY and got him to the cell alive to actually be punished for what he did, if they hadn't wanted to give the NBC producers "must see TV".

This is AMERICA, not G*d damned East Germany in the 1980s! Only in FASCIST countries do you do what that abomination of a show did! In the USA prosecutors gather evidence against you and file charges and go through the courts. Not rely on some extremely shady individuals to make "great television" of something so serious!

Whatever NBC paid, it wasn't enough. No one is saying that guy didn't do a slimeball thing, but it's another matter all together when random people can carry out WITCH HUNTS as they see fit as if we have no law and order in this country. NBC should be really, really ashamed of itself. And thank God for sane prosecutors and judges!

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 | »


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: