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NBC Predator Lawsuit Green-Lit for Trial

Louis William Conradt Jr. Fatally Shot Himself in November 2006 After Dateline NBC Camera Crew, Accompanied by Police, Confronted Him with Solicitation Allegations 2/27/2008 04:10:00 AM Eastern

A judge in New York ruled Tuesday that a lawsuit claiming that Dateline NBC series To Catch a Predator drove a Texas prosecutor to commit suicide can go to trial.

To Catch a Predator

The $105 million suit against NBC News was filed by the sister of Louis William Conradt Jr., who fatally shot himself in November 2006 after a Dateline camera crew showed up at his Terrell, Texas, home, accompanied by police, to confront him with allegations that he solicited sex with a minor online.

NBC News was working with activist group Perverted Justice for To Catch a Predator, in which adults posing as minors engaged in sexually explicit online chat to lure potential sex offenders into sting operations.

Conradt’s sister, Patricia, charged that NBC News goaded police into arresting her brother at his home after he failed to show up for a sting staged at another location.

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin rejected NBC’s request to dismiss the suit, saying that there were grounds for trial and that “a reasonable jury could find that NBC crossed the line from responsible journalism to irresponsible and reckless intrusion into law enforcement.”

NBC News representatives have repeatedly denied any responsibility in Conradt’s suicide, pointing out that there is no evidence to suggest that Conradt knew Dateline cameras were there.

In a statement responding to Tuesday’s ruling, an NBC News spokesperson said, “We think the evidence will ultimately show that Dateline acted responsibly and lawfully and we will continue to defend ourselves vigorously. The judge's ruling was based solely on the plaintiff's version of the facts. For purposes of this motion only, the judge was required, under the law, to accept the plaintiff's allegations as true.”

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