November 5, 2006
Louis “Bill” Condadt (56) fatally shoots himself as law enforcement approach his house, intent on arresting him for solicitation of a minor
Conradt had been one of two dozen people involved in a 4-day child predator sting in the Murphy, Texas area, coordinated between the NBC Dateline segment To Catch a Predator and local law enforcement. During the investigations, adults would pose as minors in internet forums and chat rooms aimed at younger users. They would then wait for a person to make contact with the “minor.” If the adult attempted to turn the conversations sexual and arrange a meeting in real life, To Catch a Predator host Chris Hansen would be waiting in the bait house to interview the suspect before law enforcement would arrest them. The segment conducted 12 investigations from 2004 to 2007, leading to the confrontation of over 250 alleged predators and leading to a considerable number of convictions.
Conradt had allegedly made contact with an adult posing as a 13-year-old named Luke. The adult is known as Jay Alternative, a contributor to Perverted Justice, an organization dedicated to exposing child predators. “Conradt found my character while surfing a gay bisexual site intended for teens,” Jay Alternative wrote in a post on Perverted Justice. “Posing as a 19-year-old, Conradt grew aggressive as my 13 year-old character, Luke, showed a lack of interest in him. During chats, he sent additional pictures, hoping to groom and entice what he believed was a 13 year-old boy.” Law enforcement told the press Conradt and the person posing as a child had met in an AOL (America Online) chat room and their subsequent conversations were “sexual in nature,” though the details of the messages were not disclosed. Eventually, Conradt stopped replying to Luke’s instant messages and phone calls.
Because Conradt had stopped responding to Luke, there was little expectation he would appear at the bait house. Law enforcement convened on his home regardless, in an attempt to arrest Conradt on charges of soliciting sex from a minor. Conradt refused to allow officers admittance into his home. They forced their way inside to find Conradt with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment where he died of his injury.
Attempts were made to prosecute law enforcement and NBC for Conradt’s death, though the district attorney refused to pursue the case. Instead, Conradt’s sister, Patricia Conradt, sued NBC for $105 million, stating “NBC crossed a line from responsible journalism to irresponsible and reckless intrusion into law enforcement,” and the police acted as “a judge, jury and executioner that was encouraged by an out-of-control reality show.” She further accused the network of being “concerned more with its own profits” than the prevention of child abuse, highlighted by an allegation that she had overheard a Dateline producer proclaim “That’ll make good TV” at the scene of her brother’s shooting.
US District Judge Denny Chin appeared to agree with Patricia Conradt’s position, and called the suicide both foreseeable and preventable. Chin further criticized the officers and network for acting, in his opinion, apathetically. NBC responded by stating it had “acted responsibly and lawfully.”
The civil case was settled for an undisclosed amount before reaching trial. In statements delivered by both Patricia Conradt’s lawyer and an NBC spokesperson, “The matter has been amicably resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.”
Dateline executive producer David Corvo told the press NBC was proud of To Catch a Predator and stated, “So if we have to tolerate some inaccurate accusations now and then, we’ll do it.”
Dittrich, Luke. “Tonight on Dateline This Man Will Die.” Esquire. February 11, 2009. Accessed: November 5, 2020.
Stelter, Brian. “NBC Settles With Family That Blamed a TV Investigation for a Man’s Suicide.” The New York Times. June 26, 2008
Seifert, Todd. “Lawsuit against NBC fails to factor in personal accountability.” The Spectrum [Saint George, Utah]. March 2, 2008
Other Resolutions – INXS00 – Terrell, Texas. February 20, 2007. Accessed: November 5, 2020. http://www.perverted-justice.com/?otherres=Inxs00
Thompson, Steve. “Sexual predator series catches heat.” Detroit Free Press. August 31, 2007
“DA refuses to prosecute ‘Catch a Predator’ case.” NBC News. June 28, 2007. Accessed: November 5, 2020. https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna19486893
Eaton, Tim. “Prosecutor kills self amid TV sex sting.” Austin American-Statesman. November 7, 2006