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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Swingers and Swappers and Pervs......OH MY!

When you think of CBS, what do you think of?

Gunsmoke? Mary Tyler Moore? Carol Burnett? M*A*S*H? Maybe CSI? Uncle Walter?

How about swingers?

Yes SWINGERS! As in wife swappers and stuff.

Well, if this bit of business from CBS ever gets on the air, that's what we are talking about. CBS has mentioned that one of the shows they have in thier bullpen is a show called Swingtown, about a strait-laced couple who moved to Chicago and meet up with a couple of spouse-swappers.

It helps that, like in most TV, there is not one fat, old, or ugly person in the bunch. Kinda like real-life swinging, eh?

Anyway, here is CBS' OFFICIAL preview. (Damn, this is a BIG screen!)

Oh, and I have not forgotten the pervs.

You know that NBC Dateline feature, "To Catch A Predator?" You know....the one where some Chester the Molester walks into a room thinking he's getting Dakota Fanning and winds up getting Stone Phillips instead (come to think of it, that's punishment enough in itself!)

Didn't it strike you as a weeeeeeeee bit unconstitutional?

Well maybe not unconstitutional, but maybe more unethical..


"Predator" Catchers Become Lawsuit Prey

(CBS/AP)“Although the reports have been subject to some controversy, audience reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.” --An NBC statement responding to a lawsuit from former "Dateline" producer Marsha Bartel, who claims she was fired for expressing ethical concerns to her superiors about the "To Catch A Predator" series. Among her complaints: That NBC "unethically pays" law enforcement officials and controversial vigilante group Perverted Justice; that the network "covers up the fact that law enforcement officials act improperly;" and that the identities of most of the Perverted Justice volunteers were kept secret from her, making it impossible to vet them. You can read the lawsuit at The Smoking Gun. And check out our take on the series from last February.

Oh....and there's more...

Sex-predator arrests in Murphy rejected
Collin County official says 'Dateline NBC' evidence isn't sufficient
12:00 AM CDT on Saturday, June 2, 2007
By TIARA M. ELLIS / The Dallas Morning News
A sex-predator sting that led to more than 20 arrests in Murphy – with one suspect committing suicide – will never make it to a courtroom.

Collin County's first assistant district attorney said Friday that his office did not accept the 23 cases. So they were never presented to a grand jury, and they are not expected to be considered again.

"We've made our final review of the cases and declined prosecution," Greg Davis said. "The bottom line with every case [that was declined] is that we don't feel the evidence is sufficient for prosecution."

Mr. Davis wouldn't explain why the cases presented to his office by the Murphy Police Department were insufficient, citing a policy against commenting on cases not prosecuted.
Last year Murphy police worked with the television show Dateline NBC and Perverted Justice, a watchdog group whose members troll the Internet posing as children to attract potential child molesters, to lure men to a house in a Murphy neighborhood.

One suspect – former Kaufman County District Attorney Louis "Bill" Conradt Jr. – did not show up at the Murphy house. But as police officers stood at the door of his Terrell home with a search warrant, he shot himself.

His sister, Patricia Conradt, could not be reached for comment Friday. Just after the November incident, she blamed his death on a rush to grab headlines. A Dateline crew was outside Mr. Conradt's house that day.

NBC spokeswoman Jenny Tartikoff said the network doesn't comment on the prosecution of cases because that is a matter for law enforcement.

Murphy Police Chief Bill Myrick and City Manager Craig Sherwood contacted Perverted Justice last summer and invited the group to their town. Mr. Sherwood said that, as far as he's concerned, the cases are not over.

"I don't think that's a final answer," said Mr. Sherwood, referring to Mr. Davis' announcement. "Any district attorney's office is going to look again if you can provide additional information that makes this a better case."

Murphy police have provided all of their investigation materials, Mr. Sherwood said, but Dateline and Perverted Justice still need to give some information to the district attorney.
Chief Myrick was out of town and could not be reached for comment.

In Texas, those who solicit sex from a child don't have to act on the solicitation in order to be arrested. The Internet chat is enough.

The men arrested in Murphy were charged with online solicitation of a minor. Depending on the circumstances of their cases, the charges could have been a second-degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in prison, or a third-degree felony, punishable by two to 10 years in prison.

Perverted Justice founder Xavier Von Erck said his Oregon-based site has contributed to hundreds of arrests that resulted in 194 convictions.

He said this is the first time that any cases on which his grass-roots organization has worked with law enforcement have been dropped.

That's part of the reason Mr. Von Erck is vexed by the Collin County decision.

"The claim that there is inadequate evidence is ridiculous," he said. "A majority of these individuals made confessions to the Murphy Police Department, and we have every piece of evidence under the sun regarding these individuals. [The] same evidence that is used quickly and efficiently in every single case we've done across the country."

Mr. Von Erck pointed to two other Murphy cases that went through other prosecutors as examples.

Ali Vagefi, a 62-year-old Tyler man, pleaded guilty in February to federal counts of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. He was sentenced to five years in prison for having sexually explicit online chats with a Perverted Justice employee who posed as a 14-year-old Murphy girl. He was arrested after asking to meet at a Murphy convenience store.

Mark Anthony Adameck, 33, received eight years' probation on deferred adjudication in February for online solicitation of a minor, according to Dallas County court records. The 13-year-old boy Mr. Adameck was chatting with and tried to meet was actually a Perverted Justice decoy.

These two cases were the result of a summer sting with Perverted Justice in which Dateline did not participate. There were four arrests then. Later Dateline joined Murphy police and Perverted Justice during a four-day operation that led to the arrests of 21 men.

"We handled these cases the same as we've done in California, Ohio, Georgia ... all the locations where we've done these large-scale stings, Dateline involvement or not," Mr. Von Erck said.
The men arrested in the Murphy operation ranged in age from 23 to 58 and included a middle school teacher.

Stanley Kendall of Mesquite taught at Dallas' Spence Middle School at the time of his arrest on a charge of online solicitation of a minor. He was initially placed on paid administrative leave after his arrest in November. He later resigned, school district officials said Friday. ]

The sex-predator sting deeply divided residents in Murphy, a southeastern Collin County city of about 11,000.

News that the cases would not be prosecuted renewed worries about neighborhood discord, said Murphy Mayor Bret Baldwin.

"This has been one crazy battle," Mr. Baldwin said. "The whole thing has been insane. It has really torn our community apart. I hate to open that door again to battle it out in the media."
Some residents were proud of their city for taking a pro-active stance. Others were angry that police were luring sexual predators into their neighborhood.

Responding to the criticism, Mr. Baldwin offered one solution last year by suggesting that Mr. Sherwood, the city manager, could resign.

The mayor said he is waiting to hear the details of the cases and what fell apart in the investigations before speaking his mind.

The issue could come up at Murphy's next City Council meeting on Wednesday.
Mr. Baldwin said, "I'm just hoping it doesn't polarize us again."

And the hits just keep on coming...


Also Online
Byron Harris reports
After a series of Murphy sex stings that were played on television last fall, the Collin County district attorney said the cases in all 24 arrests made were not adequate for prosecution.
While the Murphy Police Department resubmitted sex sting cases in April, the Collin County district attorney said it still will not prosecute.

Uncut video from the sex stings led to more questions about who actually ran the stings.
It might be called the final scene.

The NBC video footage for a another sting, highlighted for To Catch a Predator, was shot on a Sunday afternoon last fall in Terrell, south of Dallas. But this scene would end with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

TV crews and producers from the NBC Dateline show sat outside the house as the host stood with Terrell and Murphy police.

It was all supposed to be about justice.
Defense Attorney David Finn, a former prosecutor and judge, reviewed case documents for News 8.
"It's a prosecutor's worst nightmare," he said. "In fact, I've had this when I was a federal prosecutor. The last thing you want is the news media or reality TV shows to be involved in the prosecution of a case or the investigation of the case."

Some said they saw flaws in the procedure before the sting began.

An email revealed that the Plano Police Department wanted no part of the operation.
"The chief wants to ensure we have no one assisting, consulting or being involved in their operation with Dateline," it read.

A letter from the assistant Collin County district attorney to Murphy police said they were in the law enforcement business, not show business.

"You've got problems from beginning to end," Finn said. "This whole scenario is garbage-in-garbage-out, and here we sit with a pile of garbage."

Murphy went ahead anyway with a sting they said they worked on for two months. However, News 8 learned that Murphy's lead investigator, Snow Robertson, didn't work for Murphy until one day before the sting began. That put more pressure on the group Perverted Justice, a group which NBC pays to conduct internet chats with alleged sexual predators.

The group's methods have long been questioned.

Marsha Bartel, a former NBC producer, is suing NBC for $1 million after she was fired when she voiced concerns about To Catch a Predator's ethics.

Her lawsuit alleged that Perverted Justice chats are "trolling operations" in which chatters "sometimes beg individuals to come to the sting locations" so they can be captured on camera.
"[NBC] unethically provides local law enforcement with video equipment and video tapes" in exchange for dramatically staged arrest video, the suit said.

During the stings, Murphy police appeared to wear NBC cameras. Neither NBC nor Murphy police would comment.

"In regards to the series itself, we have been transparent about our reporting methods, including the role of law enforcement and Perverted Justice," said NBC. "...NBC News is proud of its reporting, and this lawsuit is without merit."

Before the final scene in Terrell, NBC was briefed on how they could get pictures of the man, Bill Conradt, inside the house.

Conradt, a former Kaufman County district attorney and, at the time, current assistant Rockwall County district attorney, was to be To Catch a Predator's last and most notorious Murphy target.

"These people were acting not only as police, but judge, jury and executioner," said Patricia Conradt, Bill's sister.

Perverted Justice chatters, posing as a young boy, said Conradt solicited them on the internet and then talked to an NBC decoy on the phone, which led to the sting that Sunday.

When he didn't answer the door, police decided to phone him with the number they got from NBC.

"If you have a suspect who's not responding, do you storm his house?" Mrs. Conradt said. "I don't think so."

After phone contact failed, the Terrell police's tactical team was called in to serve a search warrant. When they broke in the door they heard a single shot. Conradt shot himself in the head.
"It was about headlines," Mrs. Conradt said. "Making a splash. Making a story. Jumping to conclusions. We've got something that is really going to bring up our ratings."

As a matter of disclosure, News 8 competes against KXAS channel 5, which is partially owned by NBC.

Oh what a tangled web........


Anonymous said...

I guess we put you down as a pedohile lover, eh?

Don P. said...

Oh, I do love the simplicity that people have when they read things. Just so you know, anyone who sexually molests anyone, regardless of age, should be, after conviction, hung by thier testicles in public display. However, equally appaling is the lengths we go to satisfy our paranoic streaks, aka setting up potential pedophiles for our amusement, with no regard for such mundane things such as the Constitution and innocent-until-proven-otherwise.

The absurdity of all this, coupled with ur societal erotophobia, is what lead me to post this. Nothing more.

Don P. said...

One final thing. I wish that the brave people who post ANONYMOUS responses would actually take the time to READ THE ARTICLE! In it, there is no glorification of pedphilia, but a light shone the jump-the-gun mentality that has infested what passes as news on television these days. In none of these articles was there a glorification of pedophila. Just a condemnantion of tactics used by NBC News that could wind up setting thier target free. If that person WAS a predator, you would not want that man out on the streets, would you?

Or would you?