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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

matea.gold@latimes.com

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

 
Comments () | Archives (149)

Louis Conradt us where he belongs....in the ground. Rest in peace people say? What if it were your children or neices and nephews this pervert was after? One more gone, NBC might have had to pay for his death, but he paid for his crimes.

so wait, the guy talked to some other guy pretending to be a kid online and had some fantasy cyber sex but then NEVER showed up in person to actually try to have sex and then these reports tracked this guy down in his house?
wow.
So now you are guilty of crimes you Don't commit?
Last week I was drinking and was pretty drunk, I almost drove home but then decided it would be a bad idea. Am I still guilty of a DUI?

And to the person that said "well the only reason he would kill himself is if he were guilty" think again. Its being accused of pedophilia, as soon as you are accused your life is over with. Guilty or not. Go ahead and look up some other cases of people that were totally innocent. They still lost their jobs, careers, marriages, friends.. as soon as you are accused you are guilty and no one cares.
What this show was doing was nothing less than destroying peoples lives just for ratings.
Notice that none of the people were prosecuted?
I am not saying that I condone pedophiles, those people need help and if they dont want help then they need to be locked away from the rest of the populance.But on the reverse side reporters and shows should not try to act like the police and not accuse people of crimes when they have such a broad audience.

All these people saying "good riddance he shot himself" are no better than the people you loath so much. Whatever happened to presumed innocence? Just being *accused* of pedophilia is a death sentence in and of itself these days. Thanks to big media plastering your name all over the place, it doesn't matter if you are innocent or not - your life is ruined. Other countries have laws protecting your privacy until *after* you are proven guilty.

To Catch a Predator show didn't care one iota about protecting children, or getting help to individuals (pedophiles) that needed it. It was the equivalent of a public hanging, or burning a witch at the stake. It just goes to show the mentality of those who watched this show.

The executives at NBC should be ashamed of themselves, and know that their actions caused the death of a person. I'd like to see everyone affiliated with the show charged with manslaughter.

I don't care if he was a pedophile, entrapment is entrapment, and we shouldn't overlook laws just because somebody's doing something despicable.
NBC isn't doing this out of the kindness of its heart. Have any of you seen the figures they make on a single episode? These people are unprofessional, immoral drama queens and they're being paid loads of money for it.

Laws aren't written for when it's convenient to follow them, they're meant to keep us in line when it's easy to go astray.

I do not and will never agree to baiting! An Adult pretending to be a child can and will say (write) things more provocatively than a child would. Should these men have been talking sex to a child - NO absolutely NOT! But did this adult pretending to be a child say things to push him over the line he may not have crossed otherwise? Probably. How many of these men were meeting someone for the first time? I would be very interested to know. Children SHOULD be protected from pedophiles, but it should be done legally. I would rather one guilty man go free than one free man be jailed.

Who was the predator and who was the prey?

Buy your guns today people!

After reading all these comments it becomes glaringly clear how easily we will turn into riotous lynch mobs when gas hits $10/gallon. Civilization - yeah right.

They didn't prosecute the cases because they were scared about bad publicity and hurting their win/loss record. NBC did nothing wrong and isn't responsible for a pedophile killing himself.

This show hopefully educated people on how many sick men are out there wanting little girls. SAD!!!

Innocent people don't kill themselves because the police are at their door!

Well PISSED CITIZEN, maybe if you bothered to read the article you would know why

This is exactly what I hate about those "protect the children" people posting here. They spit out useless crap and hate, as if we're living in a fascist regime doing a witchhunt. And if you dare to point out that they are wrong, you're labeled as a pedohpile to shut you up. This is not different to what Scientology does: you talk about their mistakes, they start calling you a sick freak who has commited illegal activities. Don't believe it? Go try.

There's something called "innocent until proven guilty". But no, this guy might have been a pedophile, so tar and feather and skin him alive. He has done nothing, just chatted. He didn't even show up there. He had his house stormed in because of some attention hungry TV guys. Personally, I prefer someone who gets off by just chatting with some teenages. You need to find those who don't chat but do it the oldfashioned way: look at kids and pick the one they want.

You think he deserved to die because he talk to a some poser? Well I think you deserve to die because you drive a car because you might run someone over one day. Or because you own a gun, because you might shoot someone. Or because you watch horrr movies, because you have a sick mind. Easy, no?

And to all you "parents" who point out how much Deadline NBC protects their kids: let me say that you failed hard at being a parent. It's your job to raise your kids properly, to teach them not to invite random people met online. Ever thought why your beloved daughter does that? Those are your kids. Take your responsiblity and protect and raise them well and don't rely on some useless TV show to do the job you've failed at.

Face it: you can call everybody a pedophile and 99% of the people will try everything to make you shut up, even though they never did anything. Just the rumour that you may be a pedophile will ruin your life. That's what this witchhunt has done. Inform yourself: pedophila is stronger than ever before, Hansen has done nothing but to satisfy the perverted hunger for blood and public humiliation.

I believe in justice, not blind blood rage done by self-proclaimed wannabe heroes who just do it for the publicity.

What about laws indicating that a person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law? None of the people caught on camera were convicted of a crime yet their lives are ruined because of this show. I think that this is the most disgusting form of justice. This man felt as if his life was over. He did something wrong but his recourses to prove whether he was guilty or innocent was taken from him and it was all on tape for the entire nation to see. There was no where for him to go so he took his life and left behind a grieving family that cannot prove anything either since they could not talk with him. This is the worst kind of justice. Everyone needs to be able to have privacy to deal with their mistakes. What a horrible situation.

I wonder how many underage boys Louis Conradt sodomized before he was outed by Dateline? Must have been quite a few if he felt he had to take his own life.

Does Patricia Conradt find her brother's sex crimes defensible? Or did she just smell money and feign outrage so she wouldn't have to hold a job anymore?

Notice that she sued NBC, not the local police (who were the actual threat to Louis Conradt). She certainly did a fine job of discerning who had the deeper pockets.

We're all forgetting to thank NBC for halting the Nigerian Email scam operations too, as featured on To Catch an Identity Thief. /sarcasm

It amazes me that we're so interested in developing $99 laptops for the undeveloped world.

INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. Whatever happened to that?

So now Pedophiles have rights?
The right to go after little boys and not worry about being outed or arrested!!

This is a DISGRACE!

I could understand if it was the guy's wife and kids sued, but why does this guy's sister deserve to be rewarded for her brother's disgusting pedophilia!!

I can’t believe you guys are giving NBC grief for putting a spot light on child predators.
I feel a bit safer now that this loser is dead, rest in peace in hell.
If this guy was trying to pick up your little sister or brother, I wonder if you would mind Chris Hansen helping out. Just another frivolous law suit, NBC should fight this to the end.
I sure this wasn’t the first time he has tried to hook up with a minor; I bet they can investigate and make this guy look worse than he already did.

The guy did not go to the meeting. You assume he was interested in actually having sex with a minor.

I assume this means conversations are illegal.

Rather than face public humiliation for having a conversation with a supposed kid about sex, this guy shot himself in the head.

Its a shame he did not shoot Hansen first.

While I think it is sick to contemplate having sex with a person below the age of consent, I also think it is sick what NBC did to exploit this issue on national television. My wife was fascinated with the show, but it just made me ill.

I supported "To Catch a Predator" in theory and in many individual instances, but I was always uncomfortable with their going after guys who never entered the house, or who refused to get out of the car.

Pedophilia is a crime and a life-stunting abomination, but if NBC really believed in it, wouldn't it still be on the air?

they had no right to bust into his home in the first place, its a violation of civil rights. nbc deserves to pay.

Some of you people say "Oh, he didn't do anything. All he did was chat".

Sure he chatted with the bait person, which is legal. Once he started instant messaging sexual content and coordinated to meet a "minor" to engage in sexual acts, THAT's where it became illegal.

 
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