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NBC pulls online 'Predator' suicide footage

June 26, 2008|Matea Gold | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- For those interested in learning more about the deadly "To Catch a Predator" investigation on "Dateline NBC" that triggered the $105-million lawsuit that NBC settled Tuesday, there's one source that won't be of much help.

The "Predator" section of "Dateline's" website has been stripped of nearly every reference to the four-day pedophilia sting the newsmagazine orchestrated in Murphy, Texas, in November 2006.

During that investigation, Louis William Conradt Jr., a 56-year-old assistant county prosecutor in a Dallas suburb, shot himself as a police tactical team forced its way into his house while "Dateline" cameras filmed the scene outside. Conradt had allegedly taken part in a sexually explicit online chat with a volunteer for an Internet watchdog group who was posing as a 13-year-old boy.

Conradt's sister sued NBC last July, saying the network coerced law enforcement to cooperate with its sting and then failed to protect her brother's safety. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin filed an order discontinuing the suit, reporting the matter had been settled.

Neither side would provide details about the terms of the resolution, so it's unclear if the material about the Murphy sting was yanked off "Dateline's" website as part of the settlement. NBC News spokeswoman Jenny Tartikoff had no comment on why the material is no longer available online.

The website does provide transcripts and videos from the 11 other "Predator" investigations that "Dateline" did around the country, beginning in 2004. The list of stings on the site includes a brief reference to the one in Murphy, noting that 25 men were snared there. But no other information is provided.

A blog posting about Conradt's suicide written by correspondent Chris Hansen is no longer available. Neither is a statement from NBC News called "Setting the Record Straight," in which the news division rebutted a September investigation by ABC's "20/20" into the controversial events.

Footage from the "Predator" sting in Murphy, which aired on "Dateline" in February 2007, still can be easily found online, however -- on YouTube.

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matea.gold@latimes.com

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