NEW YORK — ABC News’ takedown of the “To Catch a Predator” series, which has performed so well for NBC’s “Dateline,” will appear tonight in the season premiere of “20/20.”
ABC News deployed chief investigative reporter Brian Ross to explore complaints about the now-infamous sting in a small Texas town in that ended when one suspect, an assistant district attorney, committed suicide as police tried to arrest him.
Ross is set to report on “20/20” that the Murphy, Texas, police turned over crucial aspects of the sting’s operation to “Dateline” and partner org Perverted Justice.
“The police department, the professionals, weren’t in control of the entire operation,” Collin County D.A. John Roach told Ross. “They weren’t calling the shots. Somebody else was.”
Roach said that before the sting, he warned the Murphy police department in writing not to cooperate with “Dateline.” “We’re in the law-enforcement business, not show business,” he wrote.
In the end, he declined to prosecute any of the 23 men ensnared by the “Dateline” operation, which has been covered extensively by the Dallas Morning News and was the subject of a lengthy article in Esquire.
One of the men who allegedly propositioned Perverted Justice staff posing as underage girls in Internet chat rooms was William Conradt Jr., an assistant district attorney.
Conradt didn’t allow himself to be lured to the “Dateline” decoy house, but he committed suicide as police stormed his home with NBC cameras waiting outside.
Conradt’s sister filed a $105 million suit against NBC Universal in New York District Court in July.
In Ross’ story, Murphy Police Chief Billy Myrick continued to defend his department’s collaboration with “Dateline.” NBC News execs declined to appear on “20/20.”