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NBC sued after `Dateline' suicide

July 24, 2007|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — The sister of a man who was suspected of being a sexual predator and who killed himself as the cameras of "Dateline NBC" closed in on him sued NBC Universal Inc. for $105 million Monday.

Patricia Conradt's brother, Bill Conradt Jr., shot himself in November in a Dallas suburb as police knocked at his door and a camera crew for the newsmagazine waited in the street.

Conradt says her brother, an assistant county prosecutor, committed suicide after he was accused of engaging in a sexually explicit online chat with an adult posing as a 13-year-old boy.

Bill Conradt, 57, became a target of the series "To Catch a Predator," in which NBC and the activist group Perverted Justice set up shop for four days in a two-story home in Murphy, Texas. Perverted Justice staff members posed as boys and girls online and arranged to meet men there.

Two dozen men were arrested, but the district attorney refused to prosecute any of them, saying many of the cases were tainted by the involvement of amateurs. The city manager was fired for approving the arrangement without telling the mayor or the City Council.

NBC and Perverted Justice have filmed similar operations in other cities, and the network has said the show did not have the same problems elsewhere that it encountered in Murphy.

"We plan to defend ourselves vigorously as we believe the claims in the suit to be completely without merit," said Jenny Tartikoff, a spokeswoman for NBC Universal.

Patricia Conradt accuses NBC Universal of engaging in a pattern of racketeering by bribing police across the country to let it film confrontations with suspects it lures to a home where it has set up cameras.

Her suit said NBC "steamrolled" police to have her brother arrested at his home after he failed to show up at the rigged house 35 miles away. NBC "trespassed and invaded upon Bill's property," she said, to "broadcast a spectacle to millions."

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