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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)

Makes me sick that a pig sister profits from this, her brother got off easy, all she saw was bling bling never mind the children he hurt or could have hurt.

I can't believe some of the people that I have posted some thoughts about this lawsuit on this blog and how they blame the show "To Catch a Predator". If you had a 13 year old child, whether it be a son or a daughter and a pedophile went after them and had sex with them, you bet a million bucks that a parent, any parent would be outraged because of what happened. Only people that are sick as Louis Conradt would think that he did nothing wrong. The thought was there and he was caught. That is why he killed himself. And I am sure glad he did. He was caught and he knew it. He knew that it would be on air and that is why he killed himself. It is a sad day here in America that a relative can profit from such a incident. Conradt sister should feel sick and disgusted for profiting from such an incident.

Good riddance to the scumbag..too bad the sister didn't go down with him, as she is supporting a pedophile, which doesn't make her any better than him...and to get money out of it at that. All of you out there that would stoop as low as you are to do the same as her, deserve the same, as you support pedophilia as well. You probably do it yourselves! Most of the people in this country are nothing but scumbags nowadays. Anyone that is not out to protect children instead of these lowlife slimeballs shouldn't even be allowed to HAVE children. I feel sorry for your children! To Catch a Predator and Dateline are awesome! There should be MORE shows like this!

Some of the comments I saw here are despicable. Pedophiles do not deserve rights? If that is the case I hope someone never points to you and say you are a pedophile. Without rights people would be able to accuse people of anything and the person would be thrown in jail.

Perverted Justice is a joke. I bet you people don't even know that PJ actually initiates conversations with people, even bringing up sex first. In other words, they try to actually create criminals. That is something Police are NOT ALLOWED TO DO.


HE WAS A PIECE OF CRAP!!!! HIS SISTER IS A STUPID LOSER FOR STICKING UP FOR HIM!!! IF MY BROTHER DIED WHILE BEING A CHILD MOLESTER, HE DESIRVED IT!!! I WISH I COULD HAVE SHOT HIM MYSELF!!! & HIS STUPID SISTER!!!!! THAT WHOLE CONRADT FAMILY IS MOLESTORS!!!

The big piece of news in this story is that the show is over. The TV show exposed a group of dangerous abusers who would not otherwise have been so publicly known. There should be a lot of good coming from that, from police agencies being more on the alert, to parents being more on the alert, to teenagers being more realistic about who might be coming over.

Nobody involved in making the show wanted the prosecutor to die. (There's the trolls' invite to chime in and say that they wanted it. Whatever.) It's just one of those crazy things that sometimes throws things off track. It's just an unexpected path to an end that had to come eventually.

The show did its thing for twelve rounds, and I'm happy to have those. Thanks to NBC and PJ for some great programming!

I am in my 30's and when I was 5 years old I was a victim of a molester. As far as I am concerned, these people who choose to hurt children in this way do not deserve any rights at all! Don't children have rights!? They have the right not to be molested by these sickos of society. Wake up people, anyone who seems to think that these dregs of society need rights, need to think some more!

Louis William Conradt Jr deserved more than death. As far as I'm concerned, he got out easy.

You all seem to be forgetting one important fact- Conradt DID NOT show up at the decoys house.

Let me tell you something else: I worked for a local news agency that did "pedophile stings" in the late 90's. At the time I believed in it, too. Then I found out that some of the footage was being faked! It reeks of entrapment.

I'm not defending pedophiles- they should all rot. But the end does not justify the means.

As a victim of a child predator I believe Conradts is just a coward he didn't want to face the punishment of his crime. The fact that there are people who think the website perverted justice should be shut down sickens me. Would you like your child to be taken advantaged of by an online predator? The show is doing great things and the website is too! The guy deserved to die and so should his greedy sister!

first of all...i think it is unbelievable that someone would have the nerve to sue NBC because their brother was obviously a pervert...i am the mother of two small children and i think the show was great...it was a reality show...the men that were shown on that show were all guilty and for anyone to try and justfy any of them is just as sick as they are...grown ass men should not be trying to come visit little children to have sex with them....period...and how any person in their right mind could think that the show was bad or doing these men wrong should be ashamed of themselves...i hope everyone of those men caught burn in hell for trying to take advantage of children...

Good for him. he gets what he get thats life.he was just a bad person.

It's a shame how this country justifies and protect CHILD MOLESTERS, Louis Conradt says her brother rights weren't protected but who protects the civil rights of the child these child molestors damage and destroy. If I was a judge I would never allow such a to be heard. Howw you gonna come to court with dirty hands.

To the last commenter,

Chances are the only reason you want Perverted Justice shut down is the fear your face will be broadcasted. Don't hold your breath. The only reason someone would be against Perverted Justice and the like is because you have a personal investment in ongoing deviance.

Sad that mandatory castration isn't an option.

Some facts:

Showing up at the house is not the only crime these guys commit.

It is illegal to solicit sex from someone you believe to be a minor online whether you go to meet up with them or not.

It is illegal to transmit pornographic images to someone you believe to be a minor online.

This guy committed two crimes before setting up the meeting, so whether he showed up or not he had broken the law. So they went and got him. How is that NBC's fault? If you don't like the fact that those two things will get you arrested in your home, complain about the law, not the network. A few other men were arrested at their homes (camera crew and all) after failing to show up at the sting, though with less publicity because they didn't kill themselves.

When the DA broke off the meeting, he also deleted the MySpace page that he had sent to the decoy, making the police think he was probably destroying other electronic evidence (as a DA would be careful to do), so they chose not to wait until Monday morning to arrest him and seize his computer.

Yes, this particular sting didn't net convictions, because this DA declined to proceed with most of the cases, but another one of the stings (in a place where the DA's are apparently a little bit more competent, I think Florida) netted more than 20 convictions, with most of the guys getting JAIL TIME.

About the role playing excuse:
1) These guys show up to meet the person they were chatting with at their home. If you truly believe you're not talking to a real minor and it's all just fantasy role play with some other adult, showing up to meet them kind of ruins the fantasy.
2) They are greeted at the door and welcomed into the house by a person who looks about 14 years old, and they don't get confused and leave at that point. They seem to be comfortable with what's going on.
3) Most of them don't even use that excuse themselves when they're confronted.

About the entrapment thing:
If a 13 year old can cajole, entice, flirt, or tease someone into coming over to their house for sex, that 13 year old is not guilty of anything. The adult cannot have blame-free sex with the kid because he was enticed or seduced. Adults are always responsible. Likewise, a person posing as a 13 year old should be able to use every enticing trick in the book to get a guy to come over, because if someone who says they're 13 can get you to come over for sex, you would probably willingly fall for the same thing from a real 13 year old.

One poster actually had the nerve to say there's a difference because adults can be much more persuasive and enticing than a kid. Sure. In person. But this is an online conversation! There's no difference from the pedo's perspective! Just the fact that the person says they're 13 should preclude being enticed by them, but for these guys that's the most attractive thing!

I read this old thread out of interest, having seen the programme on repeat in Europe. It's astounding the amount of bloodlust, reactionary and ill-informed opinion displayed in most of the posts here - and most of it on one side! TCAP was attacked by many journalists and legal professionals for good reasons - rather then helping the problem, it was diverting attention to a minority of easily-trapped perverts. The real problem is sadly much more complex. TV is for entertainment, not a vigilante scheme for your children. Awareness, teaching and warning - that's your job as a parent. Your child is *much* more likely to be molested by someone s/he knows by name, than some guy from out of town.

It seems evident that Conradt had sexual feelings towards children, and had committed at least online offences, but NBC were bound to settle out of court because they basically 'perverted' the legal procedure to make better TV. Maybe the sister didn't deserve the money, but they asked for it.

Between NBC and PJ's antics, many sex offenders had their lives ruined by prurient publicity, without ever being found guilty of any offence. Something very wrong there. Cases were basically dropped because of 'good TV' interfering with Police duties. And all of you who feel that 'paedophiles shouldn't have any rights' need to get an 'edumacashun'.

I hope those child-molesters who have been found guilty serve their punishment, get help, and start to lead normal lives. I'm very glad the show is over. Pretending and taking the moral high ground when it's really all about money and ratings is pretty sordid too. Even minor googling indicates that Perverted Justice is not a reputable organisation, and Chris Hansen's posing is almost as stomach-churning as the offenders' intentions. In the UK at least, we wonder why insincere, mealy-mouthed shills like Hansen, Greco, Rivera and Bunnell are big TV stars. Maybe it's a cultural difference.

Be honest. The programme used a thin cover of 'save the kids' to show horrific car-crash TV. You can all feel better about yourselves, because at least your're not as sick as X onscreen there.

Don't know why he killed himself. His charges would have been dropped anyway. I really never seen anyone on Catch a Predator still in Jail. They doing that show for money nothing else. It hurts the people who walk in that sting house. They been show to TV that they are a pedo to the entire world. They probably won't get a good job,alot of parents are going to keep their kids away from them. THey will walk outside and a guy comes up to them and says Hey Pedo you been on tv and it hurts their family as well.

You can sugarcoat it all you want, the point is that this man was intent on having relations with underage individuals. The only reason it didnt get beyond the point that it did is that officials intervened. If he didnt feel guilty because he knew he did something wrong he would not have killed himself, and whats more, now his sister stands to make a buck off of her brothers mistakes. You can call it what you want but if it was your child or sister you would probably look at it in an entirely different light.

Kimmy,did you actually see any of these programs, read the case, or any of the other comments? Do you have even the slightest idea how the law is supposed to work? Conradt's sister was paid out because NBC messed up big style.
Sorry, you have strong feelings, but poor argument. You can call it what you want.

I'm sorry the show is off. They took hundreds of jerks off of the streets. I wouldn't dream of defending these guys, they made the choice to exploit children. Think of all the pedos out there now who feel free to do as they want..

 
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