To Catch a Predator

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To Catch a Predator
To Catch a Predator title card
Title card.
Format Newsmagazine
Presented by Chris Hansen
Country of origin United States
Production
Running time 44 mins
Broadcast
Original channel MSNBC
Original run November 11, 2004 – December 28, 2007
External links
Website

To Catch a Predator is an American reality television series that features hidden camera investigations by the television newsmagazine program Dateline NBC. It was devoted to impersonating underage people (generally ages 12–15)[1] and detaining male adults who contacted them over the Internet for sexual liaisons. People were lured to meet with a decoy under the pretense of sexual contact and then confronted. Show host Chris Hansen clarified in an interview with NPR News that these subjects should be labeled as potential sexual predators, and not pedophiles. "Pedophiles have a very specific definition, people who are interested in prepubescent sex," he stated.[2]

The series premiered in November 2004, and featured 12 investigations in total held across the United States. The investigations were conducted as undercover sting operations with the help of on-line watchdog group Perverted-Justice. Since the third installment, law enforcement and other officials were also involved, leading to the arrests of most individuals caught. No new episodes have aired since December 2007.

NBC affiliates WTMJ in Milwaukee, KSHB in Kansas City and WBRE in Wilkes-Barre have also done local versions of To Catch a Predator. Various spin-offs have aired in the same format, including To Catch a Con Man, To Catch an ID Thief, To Catch a Car Thief and To Catch an i-Jacker, which featured iPod thieves. To Catch a Predator is also aired on FX and Crime & Investigation Network in the United Kingdom, the Crime & Investigation Network in Australia and New Zealand and FOX Crime in Portugal.

Method[edit]

The method that was used to catch would-be sex offenders is derived from that normally used by Perverted-Justice. Perverted-Justice volunteers build profiles identified as underage individuals on social networking websites, and enter chatrooms as decoys. They set up adults to message or email the decoy and begin a dialogue. If the conversation turns sexual in nature (the content in question initiated by the adult), the decoy will not discourage this, nor outright encourage it. This also can help the Perverted-Justice team in collecting incriminating evidence against the alleged offender. Such evidence could include engaging in sexual conversations, sending the decoy pornography or child pornography, and committing other acts.

The chatroom visitors are eventually led to believe that the supposed minor is home alone, and come inside the house or to an agreed-upon location, seeking sexual activity from the decoy. The decoy finds a reason to leave the room within seconds of meeting the visitor, which would seem suspicious to the average observer. Soon after meeting the decoy, they are confronted by Hansen who instructs them to "have a seat" and states that he "needs" to talk to them.

Hansen questions each one at length about their intentions. Some leave immediately upon seeing Hansen, because they recognize that he is clearly not a teenager, or they have seen him in previous Dateline investigations. Hansen, without initially identifying himself, interviews the suspects about their intentions, and also reads aloud some of the graphic portions of the chat to inform them that the logs were indeed recorded. Those who have not seen Hansen's Dateline investigations before often assume he is either the child's father or a member of a law enforcement agency. After a few minutes of questioning, Hansen identifies himself as a Dateline NBC correspondent and informs the visitor that the entire interview has been recorded on hidden camera as part of the Dateline NBC story. Then, Dateline crew members with large cameras and microphones reveal themselves, and the person is offered a chance to make a final statement before being asked to leave.

The first two investigations did not include law enforcement officers on site, and individuals caught in the sting were allowed to leave voluntarily, though Dateline would provide all video and transcripts to law enforcement and suspects would eventually be arrested. Arrests are sometimes made in a dramatic fashion by multiple officers who, with Taser drawn, ambush the suspect and command him to lie face-down on the ground before being handcuffed. In the Fort Myers investigation, a police officer in camouflage sometimes arrested the perpetrators as they left the sting house. Tasers are sometimes shown being used to subdue fleeing[3] or merely unresponsive[4] individuals.

During interviews, suspects often claim not to have any idea how old the supposed minor is, even when confronted by Hansen with chat logs showing the decoy clearly identifying him or herself as underage. In some jurisdictions, online solicitation with the belief that the other person is below the age of consent is a crime, regardless of whether the other person actually is.

Investigations[edit]

Bethpage, Long Island (Outside New York City)[edit]

The first in the series aired in November 2004 as a Dateline NBC segment called Dangerous Web. The operation was set up in a home in Bethpage, New York to which 18 men came over two-and-a-half days after making an appointment for sex with a minor. One of the men in the investigation was a New York City firefighter, who was later fired by the FDNY.

Herndon, Fairfax County, Virginia (Suburban Washington, D.C.)[edit]

The sequel to the first story was an hour-long special airing in November 2005. The operation was located in Fairfax County, Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and saw 19 men arrive over three days. Among the men caught were David Kaye, a rabbi, and Steven Bennof, an elementary school teacher, both of whom lost their jobs after taping.[5] John Kennelly was also significant given that he was caught by Dateline and Hansen twice during the same operation: first at the undercover house, where he appeared naked to meet an underage child, and then again less than 24 hours later at a McDonald's fast food restaurant in the Rosslyn neighborhood.[6] Kennelly initially denied that his second appearance was to meet a child (claiming that he was just there to get something to eat) until Hansen came out and said "I've got the chatlog, again!" All the men were later arrested (several days or weeks after the Dateline investigation) once their transcripts were turned over to local police. All the men, with the exception of Kennelly, received jail terms. Kennelly's prison sentence was suspended, though he was still subject to sex offender supervision.

Mira Loma, Riverside County, California (Outside Los Angeles)[edit]

The third installment of the series was a two-hour special aired in February 2006. The operation was located at a house on Riverboat Drive in Riverside, California and was the first done in cooperation with local law enforcement officials. During this sting, 50 men were arrested over three days and charged with felonies—so many that three arrived almost simultaneously, and law enforcement, at one point, ran out of personnel. One other person arrested was charged with a misdemeanor. The men arrested included a criminal investigator working for the Department of Homeland Security who was later fired and, for the first time, two men who claimed to have seen previous Dateline investigations of online perpetrators trying to have sex with minors.

Greenville, Ohio[edit]

The fourth investigation aired in two one-hour-long parts during April and May 2006 as the first half of a month-long series of To Catch a Predator specials. The operation was based in Greenville, Ohio. The location of the undercover house meant that potential predators from the larger surrounding cities of Indianapolis, Columbus, and Cincinnati had to drive upwards of an hour and a half to reach the operation. Among the men caught were one who had been slated to start a prison sentence for a different charge of solicitation in four days and a 6th grade school teacher who had also been chatting with an Indiana police officer posing as a teenage girl. Due to Ohio state requirements for evidence in sting operations, three Perverted-Justice members were temporarily deputized for the length of the operation. It was also the first Dateline investigation in which Perverted-Justice was paid a consulting fee.

Fort Myers, Florida[edit]

As with the Ohio investigation, the fifth investigation was aired in two one-hour-long parts in May 2006, forming the second half of the month-long series of To Catch a Predator specials. The operation was done in a house at 1252 Caloosa Drive in Fort Myers, Florida and saw 24 men arrested in three days. Among the more notable moments in the investigation was the arrest of a man who had brought along his five-year-old son to the house, creating a challenge for arresting officers as well as Hansen who did not want to traumatize the boy. Hansen told him immediately that he was on Dateline without attempting to interview him, and police had the difficult task of arresting the father and removing the child without exposing him to the arrest. One man, upon seeing Hansen, said that he knew that he was walking into a setup because of the way that the decoy was talking online, but came anyway "to test it." Another man had asked a decoy posing as a 14-year-old if she was willing to have oral sex with a cat and perform sex acts involving Cool Whip. She replied that she would do so on the condition that he would strip naked after entering the house. He did so and was immediately confronted by Hansen. He was the second featured predator to strip naked in the house to date. Like the first one, Hansen gave him a towel to cover himself with. Hansen also had to go look for a bottle of water for the man when he asked for one in which case Hansen made one of his typical humorous comments: "running around naked probably dried you up."

Another man arrived at almost 4am, but refused to enter the house, trying to talk the girl into getting in his car with him. After pleading with her for over 30 minutes, he gave up and walked to his car where he was arrested. Another man confessed that he was "guilty of whatever's there" (referring to the transcript) and, when asked what should happen to him by Hansen, said that he should receive the death penalty. Another duped his sister into driving him to the sting house and waiting for him in the car while he intended to have sex with a 14-year-old girl. This is the individual who pulled his shirt over his head and said, "I don't want to be on the news, dawg" to which Hansen replies, "It's a little late for that, dawg." This segment resulted in 20 convictions.

On June 30, 2009, all the cases made it through the court system. Twenty of the 24 men were convicted of using the internet to solicit a child for sex and some were also convicted of sending harmful material to a child, as some of them emailed pornographic pictures to the decoys. Because these are sex crimes, the 20 convicted men had to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. Most of them were also put on sex offender probation.

Fortson, Georgia[edit]

In August 2006, Perverted-Justice announced[7] that the sheriff's department in Harris County, Georgia had arrested 20 men over four-and-a-half days in another sting operation. The investigation in Fortson, Georgia (just north of Columbus and 100 miles (160 km) south of Atlanta) aired on Dateline NBC in two parts on September 13 and September 22, and showed a growing awareness of the television series among potential predators; Dateline itself was referenced by name several times. Notable arrests included a military staff sergeant who on his knees pleaded with Hansen "not to ruin my life", a devout Christian man whose MySpace page claimed "Jesus Rocks" and that God was his hero, and one man who had said that he had seen the show "about three times on TV already". Several months later, that man was rearrested when he exposed himself to a young girl at a public pool.

Shortly after the first half of this investigation aired, the Georgia Governor's office announced[8][dead link] a new Child Safety Initiative which would triple the number of special agents in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation dedicated to catching Internet predators and double the number of forensic computer specialists dedicated to helping prosecute computer crimes.

Petaluma, California[edit]

From August 25 to August 27, Perverted-Justice and Dateline worked with law enforcement in Petaluma, California to arrest 29 men in three days. One suspect was later released due to lack of evidence. The resulting investigation aired on Dateline NBC on September 29 and October 6. The confrontations took place in the backyard, the first time they were taped outdoors. All of the previous interviews took place in a kitchen or living room. Several political cartoons[9] published in the wake of the scandal explicitly referenced To Catch a Predator by name.

Given the proximity of the sting house to Silicon Valley, the investigation saw several computer engineers arrested, one of whom declared to the police that he was a well-respected man in society with a Ph.D. in computer engineering. Among the more notable arrests was that of a medical doctor who was the vice-president of a major cancer research corporation. Another claimed to be an active-duty Marine Corps sniper who, in his chat, said: "I carry a gun everywhere I go". Police intervened immediately before any confrontation with Hansen and found a shotgun in the individual's truck.

This segment resulted in 26 convictions. In January 2010, Lt. Matthew Stapleton of the Petaluma Police Department credited the sting operation with scaring potential predators away from Petaluma. Referring to later decoy operations by local police, Stapleton said, "As soon as they found out that we were from the Petaluma area, they completely cut off communication with us."[10]

However, after six days of testimony, a judge threw out the case against one of the defendants and criticized the tactics used by Dateline’s partner, Perverted Justice for engaging in entrapment.[11]

Long Beach, California[edit]

In September 2006, Perverted-Justice and Dateline once again worked with law enforcement in California, this time in Long Beach at 5278 E Mezzanine Way, to arrest 38 men over three days. The Long Beach investigation featured a man who had previously been encountered in the Riverside operation nearly a year earlier, a post-production video editor for Nickelodeon, a software engineer who worked for the United States Department of Defense, and a man soliciting a decoy posing as an 11-year-old (Dateline's youngest fictitious age for a decoy to date). This installment also featured a man who met his decoy at nearby Wardlow Park after refusing to meet her at the house. This man had brought the decoy an MP3 player to give her after they had sex and got pulled over for speeding on the way to the meeting. Some predators were ushered out through the back door when it appeared that another predator was on his way to the house, in order to avoid tipping off the next visitor. During some of the encounters in Long Beach, there appeared to be security breaches involving the decoy playing the part of the young teen: one predator was allowed to shake her hand and lean in to kiss her before Hansen walked in, and another was allowed to hug the decoy before being confronted by Hansen. Typically, the decoy is instructed not to have any physical contact with predators, and Hansen usually walks right in when they make a sudden move or request any physical contact such as a hug or a kiss. During this investigation, the presence of the Dateline sting operation in town was leaked online through a Craigslist internet posting. Nonetheless, 32 convictions resulted from this segment, which aired on January 30 and February 6, 2007.

Murphy, Texas[edit]

In November 2006, Perverted-Justice announced that another To Catch a Predator sting had been conducted with law enforcement in Murphy, Texas. There were 25 men who arrived at the location on Mandeville Drive over four days, with law enforcement investigating additional suspects. The predators included a former church music director and a former police officer in his 60s. Most notably, these additional suspects, who conducted chats but did not arrive at the undercover house, included Kaufman County assistant district attorney Louis W. Conradt Jr., who shot and killed himself on November 5, 2006 at his home when police attempted to serve him with a search warrant.[12] An NBC camera crew was waiting outside the house to capture the scene when the fatal shot was fired.[13] His estate, managed by his sister Patricia Conradt, filed suit against Dateline for US$105 million[14][15] The case was eventually settled out of court.[16]

This sting was also notable because it prompted protests from local residents, who were opposed to law enforcement officials purposefully attracting sexual predators to their neighborhood. Others countered that these predators were already in the area (or close by) and that this sting revealed them to be sex offenders. This investigation aired on February 13 and February 20, 2007. Prior to the settlement of Patricia Conradt's lawsuit against NBC Universal Inc, acts from the aired February 20, 2007 episode of To Catch A Predator were intended to be introduced in civil court.[17]

On June 1, 2007, all 23 cases brought up against those arrested on this installment of the show were declined to be prosecuted by the Collin County prosecutor's office due to insufficient evidence.[18] The cases were not expected to be considered again. This marks the first segment in which local law enforcement has declined an invitation to prosecute suspects involved in the show. However, one of the cases was successfully prosecuted by the Harris County District Attorney's office after it was determined that one suspect was using computers in Harris County to communicate.[19]

On September 5, 2007, Dateline aired the results of the forensic report on Conradt's computer. According to the report, Conradt's "CDs, laptop computers and cell phone all contained pornographic material – some included child pornography."[20]

Flagler Beach, Florida[edit]

In December 2006, Perverted-Justice worked with the police department in Flagler Beach, Florida to arrest 21 men over four days, and the sting was filmed again by Dateline at a house on North 13th Street. Aware that potential predators might be reluctant to show up at a house primarily due to repeated Dateline investigations, the crew set up a second location at the beach directly across the street from the house. This second location was also rigged with cameras and microphones and had police hiding in a bunker below the deck. Some of the men arrested included a retired truck driver who claimed that he lied during his chat log about wanting to have sex with the underage girl because he is no longer able to achieve an erection, a Taekwondo instructor who masturbated on webcam for the decoy with whom he chatted, and a sheriff's deputy from Alabama who was arrested in a vehicle containing an arsenal of weapons. In one case, two potential predators arrived within five minutes of each other, resulting in Hansen conducting the first dual interview of predators who had each made separate appointments for sex. This investigation aired on February 27 and March 6, 2007, and resulted in 15 convictions.

Mantoloking (Ocean County), New Jersey[edit]

From March 28 to April 1, 2007, Perverted-Justice worked with the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office in Ocean County, New Jersey to arrest 28 men who showed up at Dateline's undercover house. The arrests spanned several Northeast states, including Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The investigation was covered by Dateline NBC for a two-show edition of To Catch a Predator that aired on July 18 and July 25, 2007. As in the Flagler Beach investigation, a second meeting location was also set up at a nearby beach for those who were reluctant to show up at the sting house.

The female decoy assuming the role of the young teen was played by the 18-year-old daughter of the homeowner who rented out the beachfront house to Dateline. (It should be noted that this property is strictly used as a summer rental, and neither the decoy nor her father actually live in the home.) She was more interactive in speaking with the predators than in shows past, doing a pre-interview with featured predators before Hansen conducted the main interview. For the first time in the TCAP series, "Casey" gave an on-camera interview on what it is like to play a decoy.

Those arrested included a school bus driver, a court administrator, a senior web developer, a bodybuilder, United States Air Force mechanic Ernest C. Timmons (who died from liver failure while awaiting trial), a former firefighter, and a registered sex offender from Pennsylvania who once molested a young girl he had met online. As in previous episodes, most of the men denied an intent to have sex with the teen, yet brought gifts, condoms, and lubricants with them.

This installment of To Catch a Predator featured a man who became so ill while being interviewed by Chris Hansen that he passed out and crashed head-first into the bottom section of a counter. After being treated for his injuries, which were not serious, he was arrested. Another man seemed pleasantly surprised at meeting Hansen, shaking his hand before leaving, knowing that he would be arrested immediately afterward. In addition, a man caught in the sting mentioned on-air that he was a religious watcher of To Catch A Predator. He had heard Chris Hansen on the Opie and Anthony radio talk show. He went on to mention he was "really funny." Opie and Anthony commented about the incident on their show the next day.

The home used in the sting operation, located at 1021 Ocean Drive in Mantoloking NJ, was completely demolished by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

Bowling Green, Kentucky[edit]

On October 22, 2007, the Warren County District Attorney's Office announced that 29 men were arrested in an internet child sex sting conducted by local police in conjunction with Perverted Justice and Dateline NBC. Footage of this sting operation aired in an installment of the To Catch a Predator series on December 28, 2007. This is the twelfth investigation covered by Dateline and host Chris Hansen since the series began in 2004. Perverted Justice partnered with the Kentucky Bureau of Investigation as well as the Attorney General's office in three separate sting operations in three cities in Kentucky, but Dateline NBC was only involved in the Bowling Green portion of the operation. The female decoy used by Dateline in this operation was the same decoy they had used in the New Jersey operation though her hairstyle was different in order to reduce the possibility of being recognized by one of the predators who had watched the New Jersey investigation. Only seven men showed up to the house during Dateline's portion of the investigation, a sharp decline from previous Dateline investigations. Among the men arrested include a man with cerebal palsy, a man who was arrested on his birthday while playfully asking the decoy for a birthday kiss, and a man who claimed to be a detective. This last one was tasered due to his claim that he had brought a gun with him. The taser probes failed to stick so police chased him into the house where he was subdued. It was later found out that he was no longer a police officer at the time and had actually been fired. All men arrested face 5–10 years in prison if convicted.[21]

Criticism[edit]

The series has been accused of making news rather than reporting news, blurring the line between being a news organization vs. an agency of law enforcement.[22][23] Among the more prominent critics of the series has been Brian Montopoli of the CBS News Public Eye blog[24] and formerly of the Columbia Journalism Review. Montopoli argues that although Dateline NBC leaves legal punishment up to police and prosecutors, broadcasting the suspects on national television, in the context of exposing criminal behavior, is already a form of punishment which the media have no right to inflict. Montopoli also suggests that NBC News is more concerned about ratings than actually bringing online predators to justice:[25]

But NBC is first and foremost a business, and the producers' motives are not simply altruistic. Perhaps I'm being cynical, but I find it telling that this program has been remade and rerun so often. You could argue that NBC is just making sure as many people as possible are aware predators are out there, but is it too much to think that a little thing called "ratings" might play a part as well?

In the United Kingdom, columnist and television critic Charlie Brooker wrote of the show that "when a TV show makes you feel sorry for potential child-rapists, you know it's doing something wrong". He also commented on the "overpowering whiff of entrapment" and the potential for viewer complicity. Brooker also mentioned the selection process for the actress as being disturbing by adding "Presumably someone at To Catch A Predator HQ sat down with a bunch of audition tapes and spooled through it, trying to find a sexy 18-year-old who could pass for 13. They'll have stared at girl after girl, umming and ahhing over their chest sizes, until they found just the right one. And like I say, she's hot. But if you fancy her, you're a paedophile."[26]

In May 2007, a former executive producer for Dateline named Marsha Bartel filed a lawsuit against NBC and made assertions about To Catch a Predator that contradicted what the show purports to be about. She commented on the relationship the show has with the different police organizations and the group Perverted-Justice.[27] The lawsuit was dismissed by the New York Supreme Court in October 2007, citing that NBC has the legal right to dismiss employees without notification. NBC commented on the dismissal: "We believed from the beginning that this case was without merit and we are pleased with the judge's decision."[28]

Entrapment claims[edit]

Montopoli also suggests that To Catch a Predator may not be as immune from the defense of entrapment as the show claims. Although Perverted-Justice volunteers wait for the suspect to initiate contact, former Dateline anchor Stone Phillips concedes that "... in many cases, the decoy is the first to bring up the subject of sex." Phillips defends this, saying that "... once the hook is baited, the fish jump and run with it like you wouldn't believe."[29] Montopoli contends that this alone may render Predator-related cases vulnerable to the defense of entrapment. This situation, however, may fail the "reasonable person" test of entrapment, as there is no persuasion or coercion involved.[30] The March 2007 issue of Law Enforcement magazine, a publication of Officer.com, addressed the entrapment issue from a law enforcement perspective. "Though defendants raised the entrapment issue in Riverside, a judge's ruling later threw it out. The judge ruled it differs from a police officer presenting a handful of drugs to a subject and asking if he wants to buy some. In this scenario, the person's being invited to make a snap decision. In contrast, driving to a meeting location afforded these Internet offenders plenty of time to change their minds."[31] The article continued: "Even so, Perverted Justice puts precautions in place to thwart the entrapment issue. Volunteers never initiate contact with the person; all communication begins with the offender. Later, contributors never instigate lewd conversations or talks of sexual meetings."

Charges dropped[edit]

In June 2007, Perverted-Justice was criticized following a sting operation in Collin County, Texas, as charges against 23 suspected online sex predators were dropped. Collin County Assistant District Attorney Greg Davis claimed the cases were dropped after Perverted-Justice failed to provide enough usable evidence; however, Collin County District Attorney John Roach previously stated his position against the sting was, "We were in the law enforcement business – not show business." Perverted-Justice responded to this change in position with: "We called out the prosecutor's office because we knew they could not defend the claim that the evidence was 'inadequate.'" and "The very idea that we refused to testify or would ever refuse to testify is absurd."[32]

Conflict of interest[edit]

Beginning with the fourth investigation, Dateline began paying Perverted-Justice a consultant's fee to do its regular work; the fee was reported to have been over $100,000 for that operation.[33] It was suggested that this payment created a potential conflict of interest for Perverted-Justice, an organization run largely on the efforts of volunteers, and furthermore, that for Dateline to pay this fee would be tantamount to paying news sources, widely frowned upon in the journalism industry.[34] In their FAQ, Perverted-Justice defends this consulting fee, citing, among other things, the costs of keeping its website running and the fact that "... everyone except [themselves] and the predators are being compensated for this massive amount of effort." This was also addressed by the March 2007 issue of Law Enforcement Technology magazine. A judge dismissed motions to throw out indictments against seven of the 18 men arrested in the Ohio sex sting. To date, 16 pled guilty and two were convicted at trial. Defense attorneys contended the sting violated state law because of Dateline's involvement with Perverted-Justice and petitioned to have related videos, statements and photos suppressed.

The department kept itself separate from Dateline staff during the sting as well, to avoid legal hassles later on, says Burns. Officials were positioned in a location near but not inside the house where offenders arrived for meetings. Communications and video equipment permitted authorities to keep tabs on what transpired, and all chats were transmitted directly to officials as they took place. "We didn't want to blur the line of ethics between law enforcement and the media," Burns explained. "We didn't even speak to Dateline officials during the operations."[31]

The potential for conflict of interest was one of several concerns that lead to the non-prosecution of 23 cases in Collin County, Texas. District Attorney John Roach questioned circumstances of the May 2007 sting, stating, "What is exactly the deal between the City of Murphy and NBC? What is the deal between NBC and Perverted Justice? Who's getting paid what? Who has an axe to grind?"[35] Investigative journalist Byron Harris explained, "John Roach knew the money issue would come up in court as part of the required disclosure of benefits received by possible witnesses."[36]

Louis Conradt suicide[edit]

Louis William "Bill" Conradt, Jr. was a Texas district attorney who engaged in sexually explicit online chats and telephone conversations with a Perverted Justice decoy pretending to be a 13-year-old boy.[37] For reasons that are still not known, Conradt stopped responding to phone calls and instant messages, never having made arrangements for a meeting. However, under Texas law, individuals may be charged with committing a crime if they participate in sexually explicit chats with persons identifying themselves as children.[38] Local law enforcement decided to confront Conradt in his home with an arrest warrant, and the To Catch a Predator production team and cameras were present to record the events. Conradt fatally shot himself upon encountering the SWAT team members that were serving the arrest warrant.[38]

Unlike other stings conducted by To Catch a Predator and Perverted-Justice, Conradt's was unique in that the show's producers and police decided to confront Conradt in his home, and that he was pursued despite having never made arrangements to meet with the decoy. Conradt's death prompted increased criticism of the show, and may have been instrumental in its cancellation.[39]

Investigation by 20/20[edit]

On September 7, 2007, the ABC newsmagazine 20/20 aired an investigative report into the To Catch a Predator series by ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross. The report critiqued certain aspects of the specials, and also investigated the controversy over the suicide of prosecutor Louis Conradt, Jr. In the report, two former police detectives with the Murphy, Texas Police Department, Sam Love and Walter Weiss, claimed that the decision to arrest Conradt at his home was made by Hansen, a charge NBC denied. Love and Weiss claimed that the NBC News crew had every intention to confront Conradt, and the attorney for Conradt's family charged that Dateline chose to stop at nothing to get Conradt. Love and Weiss also claimed that Conradt's death was shrugged off by many in Murphy's police force, and the two of them left the department in disgust.[40]

Neither NBC News nor Perverted Justice cooperated with Ross' report. NBC News accused ABC News of using the 20/20 report as a hit-piece on the rival newsmagazine Dateline NBC. "I chalk this up to the usual network silly competitiveness, in a territory of a much more serious handling," NBC News president Steve Capus told USA Today. "The competitive wars [for ratings] right now are at a very high level...That's fueling this." The allegations were denied by Ross, who was formerly a reporter for NBC News.[41]

Cancellation[edit]

The original episodes of To Catch a Predator continue to air occasionally on MSNBC,[42] which also shows a series called Predator Raw: The Unseen Tapes which feature Hansen in a studio providing his later reflections and extra information on the original encounters, as well as some additional footage related to production of the episodes that had not previously aired.

However, on July 8, 2009, Chris Hansen mentioned the possibility of To Catch a Predator returning on his Facebook status, stating, "Right now we're focused on a number of other topics and once we get those stories done we'll circle around and take a look at some more Predator investigations."[43]

Book[edit]

A spin-off book, To Catch a Predator: Protecting Your Children from Online Enemies Already in Your Home, was published in 2007.[44]

Popular media[edit]

Adult Swim's Squidbillies episode "Tween Steam" is a parody in which Rusty is used as a decoy to lure predators. 30 Rock aired an episode that showed Liz Lemon's boyfriend, Dennis Duffy, getting caught on To Catch a Predator. MADtv also has done a parody of To Catch a Predator in which the predator thinks that Chris Hansen is there for sex too.

"Bro Rape: A Newsline Investigative Report" is a video by comedy group Derrick Comedy parodying "To Catch a Predator" in which a fictitious journalist catches so-called "bros" who sexually assault other "bros".[45]

The Howard Stern Show has frequently taken clips of reporter Chris Hansen's questions and combined them with answers from other show staffers in order to make it look like they were guilty of crimes of pedophilia (or worse). The Boondocks featured a parody of To Catch A Predator on the Season 3 episode "A Date With the Booty Warrior", which aired on June 27, 2010. In this parody, the predator, a spoof of Fleece Johnson, intentionally allowed himself to be caught. His target and victim was not the child, but Chris Hansen himself.

Robot Chicken presented a parody sketch in which the predator successfully sues Chris Hansen and NBC, ends up owning the network, and starts changing the programming to be more "predator-friendly". It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia did a parody of the show in the third season episode "Mac is a Serial Killer". The Simpsons did a parody in which Chris Hansen confronts Homer for returning used items, claiming to be from To Catch a Credit-whore. Homer runs off, only to return seconds later in order to sign a release and ask when the show will be airing.

The play Meat Puppet is a dark comedy inspired by the events that took place during the Murphy, Texas investigation of "To Catch A Predator". In the play, a reporter for the fictional news magazine show Red Letter catches a disgraced film actor soliciting a minor online. When the actor fails to meet the show's decoy in-person, the reporter convinces local authorities to arrest him in his home, live and on-air.[46]

In the opening sequence to the 2006 Emmy Awards program, host Conan O'Brien travels through a montage of scenes based on various popular television shows of the season, including walking into a kitchen where Hansen is waiting to intercept him. The segment did not reference any sexually related material but it is hinted.

Rap group Insane Clown Posse released a song called To Catch A Predator on their 2010 album Bang! Pow! Boom!. In the song, Violent J raps about posing as an underage female over the internet and luring pedophiles to his house to murder them.

The Comedy Central series South Park aired an episode titled "Le Petit Tourette", in which Cartman fakes Tourette Syndrome and goes onto Chris Hansen's show. The plot culminates in a scene that centers on Hansen at the end, and uses multiple pedophiles shooting themselves as a plot device and diversionary tactic. The episode also lampooned the Louis Conradt incident, in which multiple pedophiles commit suicide after discovering they have been exposed on the show.

The 12th season Law and Order: SVU episode "Pursuit" featured a show titled "Neighborhood Predator", which operated on somewhat the same premise as To Catch a Predator.

While making fun of prank shows Tosh.0 says the greatest prank show ever (as opposed to Punk'd) was To Catch a Predator.

In the 4th season of Arrested Development, Tobias Fünke becomes a registered sex offender after inadvertently appearing on "To Entrap a Local Predator," a sting operation hosted by John Beard, similar to "To Catch a Predator." while attempting to catch up with his daughter, Maeby Fünke at the Bluth Company model home where they both previously lived.

Cast[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14824427/ns/dateline_nbc/t/theyre-still-showing/#.UAUeSF2zm94
  2. ^ "Ethics of NBC's Sting Show 'To Catch a Predator'", Talk of the Nation, National Public Radio, January 16, 2007
  3. ^ When Smith tries to run from the deputies, he's shot by a Taser and knocked to the ground. – "Inside Dateline". MSNBC/MSN. 2006-09- Some investigations also show booking procedures and bail hearings. Bail is usually set between $30,000 and $50,000 per suspect. 22. Retrieved 2007-03-11. 
  4. ^ When he is confronted by police, they ask him put his hands up. He does not respond quickly enough, and the result is a taser shot.
    Hansen: Why was it necessary to use the taser on this guy?
    Sgt. Lee DeBrabander: He's already demonstrated that he's not going to listen to the orders of the police officers. A lot of these guys, they are confronted with the reality that they are about to be exposed for what they did. And a lot of them may try violence to get away. The taser was used to prevent any injury to him and also to any police officers. – Chris Hansen (2007-01-30). "Scary chats and a repeat 'predator' (transcript)". MSNBC/MSN. Retrieved 2007-03-11.  YouTube-hosted video also available.
  5. ^ Lengel, Allan (2005-11-04). "Rabbi, Teacher Lose Jobs After Taping". Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  6. ^ http://www.perverted-justice.com/?con=SpecialGuy29
  7. ^ http://www.perverted-justice.com/?updates=August,%202006
  8. ^ Governor Nathan Dean. Office of the Governor
  9. ^ http://www.cagle.com/working/061002/schorr.gif
  10. ^ Johnson, Dan (January 13, 2010). "Police laud impact of sex sting". Petaluma Argus-Courier (Petaluma, California: The New York Times Company). Archived from the original on January 20, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Man Arrested in ‘To Catch A Predator’ Sting Acquitted". TVNewser. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  12. ^ "Texas prosecutor kills himself after sex sting". Associated Press. 2006-11-06. Retrieved 2006-11-07. 
  13. ^ "Prosecutor Kills Himself in Texas Raid Over Child Sex". New York Times. 2006-11-06. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  14. ^ Fagen, Cynthia R. (2007-07-18). "'Dateline' sued in sex-sting suicide". New York Post. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  15. ^ "NBC sued for $105 million over man's death". Reuters. 2007-07-24. Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  16. ^ Stelter, Brian (2008-06-26). "NBC Settles With Family of Man Who Killed Himself". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  17. ^ New York Law Journal (March 3, 2008) Suit Proceeds Against NBC Over Dateline Suicide; Jury Could Find Responsible Journalism Line Crossed. Decision of Interest. Volume 239; Col. 3 (CONRADT v. NBC UNIVERSAL, INC., 07 Civ. 6623, Chin, District Judge Denny).
  18. ^ "Sex-predator arrests in Murphy rejected". Dallas Morning News. 2007-06-01. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  19. ^ "The largest and best anti-predator organization online". Perverted-Justice.com. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  20. ^ "msnbc.msn.com". msnbc.msn.com. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  21. ^ "Attorney General Greg Stumbo Announces Bowling Green Child Sexual Predator Sting". Kentucky.gov. 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  22. ^ "The Shame Game", Columbia Journalism Review, January–February 2007. Retrieved March 12, 2008.
  23. ^ Perverting Justice for the Sake of Ratings" by David Anderson, Counterpunch.com, February 7, 2008. Retrieved March 12, 2008.
  24. ^ CBS News http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/publiceye/main500486.shtml |url= missing title (help). 
  25. ^ Montopoli, Brian (2006-02-07). "Does Dateline Go Too Far To Catch A Predator?". CBS News. Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  26. ^ Brooker, Charlie (2008-05-31). "Charlie Brooker's Screen Burn". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  27. ^ [1][dead link]
  28. ^ "'Predator' producer loses ethics lawsuit"[dead link], Phil Rosenthal, Chicago Tribune, November 2, 2007
  29. ^ Phillips, Stone (2006-02-01). "Why it's not entrapment". Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  30. ^ "Legal Definition of 'Entrapment'". Lectlaw.com. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  31. ^ a b "Internet Watchdogs" Officer.com
  32. ^ "Charges dropped in Internet sex-sting cases". Dallasnews.com. 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  33. ^ Farhi, Paul (2006-04-09). "Dateline Pedophile Sting: One More Point". Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-12-23. 
  34. ^ Montopoli, Brian (2006-03-28). "More Criticism For To Catch a Predator". CBS News. Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  35. ^ "DA: Murphy sex sting cases may not reach court"[dead link], Harris, Byron , WFAA News, June 22, 2007
  36. ^ "Murphy sex sting: Who benefits?"[dead link], Harris, Byron, WFAA News, July 19, 2007
  37. ^ http://perverted-justice.com/?archive=Inxs00
  38. ^ a b http://www.esquire.com/features/predator0907
  39. ^ "More Criticism For "To Catch A Predator"". CBS News. 
  40. ^ "To Catch a Predator:" A Sting Gone Bad, ABC's 20/20, September 7, 2007
  41. ^ "Dateline" Caught Up In Debate Over "Predator" Series, Johnson, Peter, USA Today, September 4, 2007
  42. ^ Rendall, Steve (April 2009). "The Online Predator Scare". FAIR. 
  43. ^ "Niet compatibele browser". Facebook. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  44. ^ Bethanne Kelly Patrick, "Parenting by the Books — Lots of Them", Publishers Weekly, Volume 254 Issue 7 February 12, 2007 http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/print/20070212/12880-parenting-by-the-books--lots-of-them-.html
  45. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zvTRQr7ns8
  46. ^ http://www.edmontonjournal.com/entertainment/Queasy+production+premieres+Edmonton+theatres/4127010/story.html
  47. ^ Internet Movie Database
  48. ^ Internet Movie Database
  49. ^ Internet Movie Database
  50. ^ The TV Shows: To Catch a Predator
  51. ^ Internet Movie Database

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