Dateline Online Child Predator Sting Ends in Suicide of Prosecutor
After 8 televised episodes, most people have now seen or at least heard about the elaborate online child predator sting operations headed and filmed by “Dateline NBC”. Comedians make jokes about it, but citizens in Murphy, Texas aren’t laughing.
All of the episodes of “To Catch a Predator” aired by Dateline NBC have been very similar. Each sting operation has been in a different town, but the operation itself is run the same way each time.
“Dateline” and a group of activists calling themselves “Perverted Justice” work together in the operations and here’s how it all goes down.
The adults of “Perverted Justice” pose as children and roam internet chat rooms. When they find an adult interested in chatting with them, they try to see if they can get them to engage in incriminating sex talk. All of the chat transcripts are recorded and later presented as evidence.
While they are posing as young girls and boys for the “Dateline” stings, the “Perverted Justice” teams chat with and record adults who are interested in meeting the child they believe they are talking with online. They set up the meetings and “Dateline” rents a house for the meetings to take place.
When the adults show up to have sex with the “child”, instead of meeting the boy or girl they believed they were chatting with, they are confronted by Chris Hansen of “Dateline”. He asks them what they are doing there and what they expected to happen and why they thought it was a good idea to make a sex date with a child. He often tosses them a chat transcript to review while he’s talking. The humiliating exchanges are filmed for prime-time television. After they talk with Chris and realize they are busted, the men are arrested and handcuffed by police when they leave the residence.
When “Dateline” and “Perverted Justice” went to work in Murphy, Texas, 25 men were caught in the sting. One of those men happened to be an assistant prosecutor from a neighboring county who had chatted online with someone he thought was a 13 year old boy.
Louis Conradt Jr. did not show up at the “Dateline” sting house, but did engage in sexually explicit chat with one of the adults of “Perverted Justice” posing as a young boy. When police arrived at his home, a “Dateline” camera crew waited in the street. Conradt shot and killed himself when police knocked on his door.
When the “Dateline” investigation and Conradt’s suicide became publicized, residents were outraged. Members of the community were furious that child predators were lured to their community. Residents who lived in the neighborhood where the operation took place said that the sting was not at all appropriate in the family community.
The city manager had approved the sting but did not inform the Mayor or City Council because he said that it had to be kept a secret to ensure the success of the operation. As a result of the fiasco, the Murphy City Council has voted to buy out the city manager’s contract.
The District Attorney of Collin County has dropped charges against all of the men arrested in the sting operation. In 16 of the cases he says he did not have jurisdiction because neither the men arrested nor the “Perverted Justice” chatters were in the county when the chats took place. In the remaining cases he said that he could not be assured that the chat logs were complete and authentic.
He was disappointed that individuals other than police officers and investigators were involved in the cases. He calls the sting operation unprofessional.
This was the 9th “To Catch a Predator” sting operation filmed by “Dateline NBC” and this is the first time that charges have been dropped against the suspects.