NBC News Sued for Millions Over Child Predator Sting

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 17, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "impact" segment tonight, the sister of a man who committed suicide after an NBC News child predator sting is suing that network for millions of dollars. And here is the back story.

Last November as part of NBC News "Dateline" program, Louis Conradt, Jr., a former Texas prosecutor, was accused of trying to procure sex with a 13 year-old boy on the Net. As police were about to arrest him, Conradt shot himself to death. Subsequently, all the charges were dropped in that Internet sting.

With us now is attorney Bruce Baron, who's representing Patricia Conradt in the lawsuit. All right, let's walk through this. You're not going to state or claim that the police are illegal — doing something wrong when they use Internet sting methods to identify predators?

BRUCE BARON, CLIENT SUING NBC: Oh no. To the contrary. We would encourage it. I mean, police and law enforcement, they're trained to do these things. We want them to. In no way, Bill, do I want you or the public to think that I or Patricia Conradt are advocating on the behalf of child pornographers.

O'REILLY: OK. So you're okay with the cops posing as young boys or girls…

BARON: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: ...on the other end of the Net, to try to identify adults who want to molest them.

BARON: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: Now in this case, NBC News, as part of their "Dateline" series, contracts out with a group called Perverted Justice, which does just that. Perverted Justice is civilians.

BARON: Right.

O'REILLY: They're based in Portland, Oregon.

BARON: Right.

O'REILLY: However, they do, when they find predators online or someone they think, alert the authorities in the areas. And this was in Texas. And they alerted the authorities correct?

BARON: Correct. But you know what it is, Bill? The reality of it is, police and law enforcement should never subcontract police work. Police are trained to handle these situations, so they don't get to the unfortunate situation like it got to with him.

O'REILLY: OK, but what if I find somebody on the Internet who's a predator, say I'm a parent and my child is being accosted, I'm going to call the police.

BARON: And you should.

O'REILLY: Well, what…

BARON: But you shouldn't call NBC.

O'REILLY: But why would that be different by NBC and Perverted Justice doing the same thing? They've identified people they believe are predators. Then they call the police.

BARON: Here's the problem, Bill. Conradt, who was a career prosecutor, afforded his defendants that he prosecuted in his career a presumption of innocence and a presumption of fair trial. When he opened up the window and saw Chris Hanson on his lawn.

O'REILLY: The NBC reporter?

BARON: That's correct. He knew he wasn't there to visit his grandmother. His presumption of innocence was thrown out the window. And that's not right. NBC has no right to declare — become the judge, the jury, and sentence him to death.

O'REILLY: All right. So you're saying that just the exposition and the arrest of Mr. Conradt was a conviction?

BARON: Not the arrest. Not the arrest. But.

O'REILLY: Because the cops were there with Hanson.

BARON: Well, as it turns out, the arrest of the other 24 individuals…

O'REILLY: Were thrown out.

BARON: …were thrown out. Isn't that ironic?

O'REILLY: That's the first time that's happened. Clearly, this prosecutor didn't want any part of this case.

BARON: It's going to happen time and time again because you have amateurs getting involved in police work.

O'REILLY: OK. Now Mr. Conradt was an educated man. As you said, he was a career prosecutor. And he made a decision to take his own life, because he didn't want to suffer the humiliation that was facing him. Am I correct there?

BARON: Well, we don't know of course what was in his mind, but certainly he should.

O'REILLY: Oh, there is no other motivation. I mean, if he were innocent, he could beat the rap, he could hire you. He could hire another lawyer to beat it. But it looks to any rational person…

BARON: Well, Bill, if I may.

O'REILLY: Sure, go ahead.

BARON: I think many things will come out shortly during the discovery phase of the impending lawsuit that might shed a different light, not only on the allegations pre-death of Bill Conradt, but the allegations and the conduct of NBC and their officials during this whole thing.

O'REILLY: And we'll look forward — look, we don't have any use for NBC News. You know that. We think that this is an out of control outfit over there. And Americans are bailing out of it in droves. So I'm not going to argue for them.

But I will say this. It looks to me like Louis Conradt said, I don't want to be humiliated in this way and I'm going to kill myself. So I think you might have a little bit of trouble saying to a courtroom this man isn't responsible for his actions.

BARON: Well, no. To the contrary. This is certainly a consequence of what was intended. I mean, the intent here by no means by Chris Hanson and his cohorts are not to stop child predators. No. They're to boost ratings and inflame situations. In fact, they can't even inflame the situation themselves. They need a third party because then they won't be held to an ethical standard of journalism. So that just shows in and of itself.

O'REILLY: All right, so you're going to go in and say this whole deal was malicious?

BARON: No question about it.

O'REILLY: OK. And the malice.

BARON: In fact, keep in mind, I don't know how many times before Chris Hanson was kind enough to make house calls, but in this particular case he made a house call.

O'REILLY: Well, this was a big guy.

BARON: Well, yes, because my guy never went to the house.

O'REILLY: No, this was a big guy. And as you said, they want to get that thing. But if NBC can prove that this guy did try to stalk a 13-year-old boy, then you got another problem.

BARON: No, you don't. You know why? Because even at worst case he did, no one would ever give him the death sentence. Saddam Hussein was given due process. Bill Conradt should be given nothing less.

O'REILLY: All right, fascinating case. We'll follow it and we appreciate you coming in, counselor.

BARON: Thank you.

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