Dateline Sting Leads to Suicide

It was the kind of story Dateline loves: set up a camera outside a house to film the perp as the police arrest him and march him off to jail. The police love these stories, as well, because they give visual evidence to local residents that law enforcement is doing something productive.

The story didn't end as Dateline expected. Instead of surrendering himself to the police who pounded on his door, Louis Conradt Jr. shot himself. Conradt, a prosecutor, had been set up by Perverted Justice, a group of people who lurk in chat rooms, posing as minors, hoping to lure adults into a seemingly illicit chat. Conradt allegedly agreed to meet a chatter posing as a 13-year-old boy.

Dateline considers itself blameless. Its voyeuristic obsession with sex crime arrests didn't have anything to do with Conradt's suicide, it claims, because Conradt didn't know he was about to be filmed. Maybe, or maybe a neighbor called him to ask why a film crew was hanging out in his yard. In any event, it isn't Dateline's job to shame a presumptively innocent internet chatter by filming his perp walk as police show up unannounced to haul him out of his home. This is tawdry theater, not journalism.

The stings operated by Perverted Justice have netted 260 arrests this year. It's troubling that private citizens are engagng in what amounts to law enforcement, unhindered by the minimal constraints that bind the police. And it's troubling that 260 people were arrested for chatting online with adults. Maybe some of those folks chatted with real minors at other times. Maybe some of them are predators. But no minor is harmed or placed at risk when an adult (even an adult posing as a child) is able to convince another adult to chat explicitly and to arrange a meeting. We should focus law enforcement resources on people who prey on real kids, not on people who chat with adults who pretend to be kids. Isn't there enough crime in the country without inventing criminal behavior that doesn't actually harm anyone?

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    This has always bothered me (none / 0) (#1)
    by Slado on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:35:35 AM EST
    I'm a pretty hard core law and order kind of guy but something about this whole operation has always bothered me.

    While these guys are obviously perverts in the back of my mind I always felt that most of them probably never had "met" with a minor in person if only because horny teenagers and minors don't really invite dudes over to their house and the suprise of the invitation is all that got these guys over there in the first place.

    Then the conservative in me says "But wait Slado, these guys showed up with beer, condoms and sex toys.  If there had been a minor there ready for sex do you think they would have not done it".   I know the answer to that questions.

    Still I still can't shake the fact that most of these guys where internet perverts who stayed in their houses until Dateline came along.  


    I'm torn as well. (none / 0) (#2)
    by platys on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:43:29 AM EST
    I'm torn over Perverted Justice as well.  It is true that these guys think they are talking to 13 year old boys and girls.  They do show up when meetings are setup.  And, if you read their website, you see that some of these guys get caught over and over again.  Others have actually molested people.  Many are in positions of responsibility over children.

    But, yeah, the private citizen angle does make me nervous.  On the other hand, its not like law enforcement has the resources to hang out in chat rooms the way Perverted Justice does.


    hear that Slado (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:45:01 AM EST
    There is definitely an entrapment element here that makes me uncomfortable as well.

    If it helps... (none / 0) (#4)
    by platys on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 10:57:27 AM EST
    The Perverted Justice folks just go into general local chat rooms, with a profile stating a young age (usually 12 or 13, I believe).  Then they sit and wait for folks to IM them.  Apparently they get swamped very quickly.

    Wrong !!!! (none / 0) (#17)
    by flgm1334 on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 07:50:01 PM EST
    Pervert Justice goes into ADULT chat rooms, not public. Why its not always how they make it seem. Because they lie about how they get people to talk to them.

    Dateline (none / 0) (#5)
    by HeadScratcher on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:06:13 AM EST
    It's the whole showing up with alcohol and condom thing that makes me not care much about this. entrapment is easy, but you still have free will. In other words, the perp had plenty of time to say 'no' to the entire arrangement but he took a lot of time to drive over and prepare for the 'date' with a minor. How many opportunities did he have to turn back? It's not like they got caught up in the moment.

    they do it.................... (none / 0) (#6)
    by cpinva on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:27:40 AM EST
    because it's cheap. minimal production costs for lots of publicity. is it the right thing to do? beats me. headscratcher's point is well taken though, they can stop at anytime, no one's forcing them to go. it isn't as though somebody's standing there next to them, urging them on, they have to commit affirmative acts, all by themselves.

    as to the cameras filming the "perp walk", yeah, that's sleazy. however, an arrest is a matter of public record, and the police want all the publicity they can get.

    best thing to do is to stay out of chatrooms popular with young people.

    But... (none / 0) (#7)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:39:18 AM EST
    as to the cameras filming the "perp walk", yeah, that's sleazy. however, an arrest is a matter of public record, and the police want all the publicity they can get.

    Don't the "perps" have to agree to let their faces be shown on the show?

    I don't buy this is innocence ensnared, done wrong (none / 0) (#8)
    by Kitt on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:40:36 AM EST
    I seriously doubt as Slado points out that most of these people are 'first timers' and were closet perverts (now there's a term for ya).  Something about showing up at someone's house under the assumption you are meeting with a preteen or early teen and accompanied by certain substances which are deemed illegal for a preteen or early teen to consume is even more unsavory.

    What's the likelihood of these scumbags being ballied by anyone because for the most part (and likely all) are male.

    In any event, it isn't Dateline's job to shame a presumptively innocent internet chatter by filming his perp walk as police show up unannounced to haul him out of his home

    In this case... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 11:48:20 AM EST
    according to an AP story today my local paper, this guy never showed up at the "adult posing as a minor"'s house...the authorities "thought" he would though. So...he never went through with a meeting.

    This guy may have never done anything to any kid...but now he is dead.  Something to think about at least.

    If you ask me...the "perverted justice" folks have a creepy infatuation with sex crimes themselves.  

    sarcastic.......................... (none / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 12:01:35 PM EST
    probably not, for the same reason that they don't have to give permission for their pictures to show up on the front page of the newspaper: the first amendment.

    they can't go in private property, such as your house, but the filming is done out in public, same thing with the still pics.

    No one is harmed? (none / 0) (#11)
    by jarober on Tue Nov 07, 2006 at 02:25:02 PM EST
    TChris, you're just nuts.  I have a 13 year old daughter, and these predators are not innocent victims.  They are people trying to lure young, inexperienced boys and girls into illegal acts.

    Unless you're a charter member of NAMBLA, this isn't hard.

    jarober (none / 0) (#12)
    by 1980Ford on Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 01:44:13 PM EST
    Our Founders had sons and daughter, too, and still wrote "presumed innocent" into the Constitution. Do you think they hated America?

    how's that again? (none / 0) (#13)
    by Patrick on Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 02:15:14 PM EST
    The presumption of innocene in a court of law is different than whether or not some is deemed an innocent victim of an enforcement action in a public forum, no?  

    Deterrence? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Patrick on Thu Nov 09, 2006 at 02:17:37 PM EST
    If it can be established there is some deterrence factor here, I think it's a good thing.  

    My understanding of perverted justice is that they do not initiate any contact or any of the sexual chat, but can respond.  How is that entrapment?  

    Perverted Justice (none / 0) (#16)
    by flgm1334 on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 07:41:37 PM EST
    They contact people, they just alter the chat to make it seem so. They have done this before.

    Know the tactics Perverted Justice Dosent tell you (none / 0) (#15)
    by flgm1334 on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 07:40:15 PM EST
    Short and sweet, from the other side of the story. They also start conversations to lure people into chats, they use hard luck stories, my mom and dad hate me, I was abused I need somoneone to talk to, and constantly call people over and over, JUST to get a person to come to thier sting house. This tactic of entrapment, is gross. We know teens do not go to adults houses, nor have any I mean any interest in a OLD MAN, come on guys. There is something missing here.

    This online sting thing is a great money maker.
    Yes they caught some wierd people, but if anyone here knows todays teens, they have alot more computer knowledge, and understanding of life than the adults of today. Meaning we all think the teens are in danger, wrong answer.

    In my eyes and alot of people I have Emailed about this, Dateline and perverted justice need to be held responsible for the death of the man in TX, and need to leave the Law in the hands of the people who know what they are doing. And Parents rememeber, none of your kids should be in adult chat rooms anyway, and a real predator will go into kids rooms, and from what I have seen, this never happened. They have nothing on everyone they have arrested. I am not for pedos, I am for the truth in justice, not media faking the truth and preying on parents weakness to make them judge people before they know the truth. JUST to make a Buck! Sad society we live in.