NEW YORK (Reuters) - The sister of a former U.S. state prosecutor who killed himself after he was targeted by a television show as a suspected pedophile is suing NBC Universal for $105 million.
Louis William Conradt, 56, shot himself in November 2006 after he was confronted at his Terrell, Texas, home by police, whom the lawsuit said were carrying television cameras for a “To Catch a Predator” segment of NBC’s Dateline program.
“To Catch a Predator” involves Dateline and Internet watchdog Perverted Justice luring suspected pedophiles to a “sting house” by using online decoys. NBC has said Conradt had contacted a decoy posing as a 13-year-old boy.
But Conradt did not visit the “sting house” the show set up in Murphy, Texas, 35 miles from Terrell. The lawsuit said 24 men were lured to the Murphy home and arrested, but no charges were brought as a result of the operation.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan by Patricia Conradt on behalf of Conrad’s estate, accuses NBC’s Dateline of “steam-rolling” police to arrest Conradt, a retired district attorney for Kaufman County.
The lawsuit said police and members of the Dateline crew traveled to Conradt’s house “with neither a search warrant nor an arrest warrant” that met legal standards.
“Both police officers and other members of the party were wearing cameras ... very large cameras, on the cutting edge of technology, that normally are worn only by television reporters,” the lawsuit said.
“They were met by (Conradt). He told them ‘I’m not gonna hurt anyone’ and shot himself. Then a police office said to a Dateline producer, ‘That’ll make good TV.’ Death was an hour later,” it said.
“The stigma of suicide irrevocably has spread its dark shadow over his good name and reputation,” the lawsuit said.
NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co., said it had not yet received the lawsuit.
“But we plan to defend ourselves vigorously as we believe the claims in the suit to be completely without merit,” it said in a statement.
This is the second lawsuit filed against NBC in the last three months over the “Dateline” predator series. In May, the show’s former producer, Marsha Bartel, sued the network in Illinois federal court, alleging she was fired after she raised ethical concerns about the show’s methods.