NBC Settles Predator Lawsuit

NBC News, sister of man who shot himself during To Catch a Predator sting resolve $105 million lawsuit.
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NBC News and the sister of a man who shot himself during one of the network’s To Catch a Predator stings resolved a $105 million lawsuit, according to NBC.

“The matter has been amicably resolved to the satisfaction of both parties,” the network said in a statement.

Patricia Conradt filed suit last year in New York court claiming that the show, which was working with a civilian watchdog group called Perverted Justice, and authorities in Murphy, Texas, where the sting took place in November 2006, failed to adequately protect her brother, Louis William Conradt Jr.

Louis Conradt was a former Texas prosecutor who allegedly engaged in an explicit e-mail exchange with someone whom he believed to be a 13-year-old boy. But when Conradt failed to show up at the Predator sting location, Dateline correspondent Chris Hanson, with cameras in tow, went to his house with Murphy police officers. Conradt shot himself as officers were breaking down his door.

NBC has consistently maintained that Patricia Conradt’s suit had no merit, asserting that there was no way Louis Conradt could have known that Dateline cameras were outside of his home. But in February, a judge ruled that the case could go forward.

NBC News aired one-dozen Predator hours. The last one came and went late last year. And while Steve Capus, president of NBC News, wouldn’t say that the franchise is definitively dead, he conceded that it is unlikely to return.

“It’s probably played itself out,” he said during a recent interview with B&C. “I’m not sure we can go in and do the same sort of things effectively going forward.”

But Capus professed his admiration for Hanson and the show’s producers, calling Predator a “public service.”

“I think they’ve done a great job of exposing an issue that was pretty staggering," he added. "Everywhere they went results were similar. As a parent, I found it incredibly compelling and chilling.”

Nevertheless, Predator -- which enjoyed healthy ratings for much of its run -- came under fire for blurring the line between media and law enforcement. The district attorney declined to prosecute the 23 men arrested in the Murphy sting, saying any evidence was tainted by the Dateline investigation. Murphy Police Chief Billy Myrick resigned earlier this year.

The events in Murphy were the subject of critical investigations by WFAA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, as well as ABC News.

The WFAA report, “Television Justice,” was one of several investigations that garnered the station a Peabody Award, as well as an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award.

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