as you may have heard, a former texas prosecutor sent sexually suggestive emails to an nbc producer posing as a 13-year-old boy. when local law enforcement sent in a SWAT team, apparently at the behest of the network, the guy killed himself.
few will have sympathy for anyone sending dirty emails to kids (or, to be precise, those posing as kids). that said, i could find no evidence suggesting that the man had ever engaged in any violence against kids or adults. but for the network's intervention, he may never have acted on the impulses that drew him into dateline's spotlight.
A federal judge handed a legal victory Tuesday to a woman who claims "Dateline NBC: To Catch A Predator" led her brother _ a Texas prosecutor _ to kill himself after camera crews and police officers showed up at his home in a sex sting.
In a scathing ruling, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin permitted a $105 million lawsuit to go to trial, saying a jury might conclude the network "crossed the line from responsible journalism to irresponsible and reckless intrusion into law enforcement."
Louis William Conradt Jr., an assistant prosecutor in suburban Dallas, fatally shot himself after he was accused of engaging in a sexually explicit online chat with an adult posing as a 13-year-old boy, according to a lawsuit filed by his sister.
In his ruling, Chin said the network "placed itself squarely in the middle of a police operation, pushing the police to engage in tactics that were unnecessary and unwise, solely to generate more dramatic footage for a television show."
Chin wrote that a reasonable jury could find there was no legitimate law enforcement need for a heavily armed SWAT team to extract a 56-year-old prosecutor from his home when he was not accused of any violence and was not believed to have a gun.
He said a jury might conclude it was done solely to sensationalize and enhance the entertainment value of the arrest.
"A reasonable jury could find that by doing so, NBC created a substantial risk of suicide or other harm, and that it engaged in conduct so outrageous and extreme that no civilized society should tolerate it," Chin said.
Before issuing his ruling, Chin said he reviewed a copy of the Feb. 20, 2007, episode. In her lawsuit, Patricia Conradt claims a police officer at the scene of the shooting told a "Dateline" producer: "That'll make good TV."