Friday, June 27, 2008

Dallas 'Catch A Predator' Pedophile Prosecutor Lawsuit Settles

Esteemed Brother Rice High School alumnus Chris Hansen's investigative television show To Catch A Predator was a staple of NBC's prime time television lineup for numerous years. The show fed off American television viewers' penchant for justice and sex by combining the two elements into wholefully entertaining one-hour and two-hour segments of Hansen duping child molestors into responding to online invitations from underage minors on social networking websites and chat rooms. In a typical segment, the subject appears at the house - sometimes bearing gifts of alcohol, stuffed animals and prophylactics - and is greeted by an equally excited minor, who is usually an undercover law enforcement officer or actor. The subject proceeds to engage the "child" in conversation - sometimes get naked - and then - BOOM - out comes Hansen with any one of a number of trademark phrases. The entire encounter made for truly amazing television and generally resulted in the molestor being tackled - or in some instances - tazed by police. It was all great until someone killed themself.

To the dismay of many viewers, the show was placed on hold after suburban Dallas prosecutor Louis William "Bill" Conradt, Jr. committed suicide during an encounter with Hansen. The episode was unique in that rather than setting up a "sting house", the show went to Conradt's home to tape as the Kaufman County SWAT team busted through his front door. The SWAT team purportedly cornered Conradt in a room where he shot himself in the head with a Browning .380 handgun. The episode aired on February 20, 2007.

Conradt's sister, Patricia Conradt, thereafter sued NBC Universal, Inc. for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, unjust enrichment, and various Federal civil rights claims. The suit sought $105 million dollars in punitive and compensatory damages. The suit was later amended to include a cause of action under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) which was promptly dismissed by the Court. In December, NBC attempted to have Contradt's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim dismissed as not rising to the level of "extreme and dangerous" as required under Texas law. The Court denied NBC's 12(b)(6) motion in February setting the stage for pretrial settlement negotiations. Earlier this week, an announcement was made that the case had been settled for an undisclosed amount.

It should be noted, that while child rapists certainly deserve to be ostracized and hated, even the Supreme Court has found death to be an inappropriate sentence.

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