Is The TV Show “To Catch a Predator" Considered Entrapment?

If you’re someone who keeps up with law and order, you’ll know that there have been countless instances where police officers have been dismissed because of their role in the entrapment of potential criminals. But what is entrapment? And is the tv show ‘’to catch a predator’’ considered entrapment?

The perpetrators presented in the show were more than willing to engage in illegal activity all on their own. The police did not force or con them into it. When we take these facts into the calculation, we cannot confidently say that the show is considered entrapment. There is not enough evidence to prove that notion.

But we can’t just brush away the fact that the show has been deemed extremely controversial. And many of the things that were shown could have come to a settlement differently. That is, only if it was given the right level of attention. This is why we’ll look into all that to decipher the actual essence of the show so that we can conclude whether it was entrapment or not. Let’s get into it.

Why “To Catch a Predator” Cannot Be Considered Entrapment

IMG source: Fairfield citizen

At least in the United States, where the show went through taping, we cannot deem or consider "To Catch a Predator" to be entrapment for two reasons: 1. NBC, being a private company, is unable to "entrap" others; and 2. Entrapment does not mean giving someone the chance to commit a crime.

Entrapment occurs when you trick someone to commit a crime so that you may arrest them. To return to point #1, the activities must be actively conducted by the government or a government agent for entrapment to constitute a legal defense. 

A private actor can entice and persuade someone to commit a crime all they want, and they aren't setting up "entrapment" in the process. Although they may be committing other crimes, such as extortion, assault, or conspiracy.

Now coming to argument #2, even if NBC was intentionally and proactively cooperating with the police. And we could consider them to be government actors. They were just giving the criminal a chance to violate the law that they were already preparing to do so. 

There was no coercion, no threats of retaliation; they staged an imitation sting, and the accused molesters, pedophiles, and child abusers who showed up did so of their own free will. 

Now they could have just walked away at any point between logging off in the chat room and stepping through the front door of the property, and no harm would have come to them. But they didn't, though.

The Three Aspects of Entrapment Not Present In “To Catch A Predator”

IMG source: Youtube

The following are the three aspects of entrapment:

  • The police (or government agent) came up with the concept for the crime.
  • The police or agent persuaded the individual to perform the crime.
  • And the person was not ready to commit the crime before meeting with the police or agency.

Now, none of these appear in any of the episodes of "To Catch a Predator". So, we cannot write the show off as entrapment.

In November 2004, the series debuted. With the involvement of a total of 12 investigations which took place in all other states. With the brains of the internet watchdog group Perverted-Justice, the inspections were done as secret sting actions.

With the 3rd segment, police officers and other officials have been associated. And the majority who were guilty were put in jail.

To Catch a Predator’s real goal has always been to reveal predators and allow law enforcement to catch them in red hands. It is not, therefore, a kind of entrapment. Since entrapment, as I gave a definition above, requires a testing method that must be met and have the classification as such. 

Why Was “To Catch a Predator” Cancelled?

To Catch a Predator's creators had been under the radar for forging and presenting fake news instead of verifying it on multiple instances. Many of the media organizations involved strongly protested that the program was breaching the boundary between actual press and a police reinforcement agency. 

As the years progressed, the program was under speculation of entrapment. And we discussed this previously. But as entrapment occurs when a law enforcement agent forces an individual to commit the act of crime which they would have refrained from doing otherwise, the show had no records of doing that and thus could not be fined for entrapment. 

Nevertheless, it was an incident that happened back in 2008 that ultimately lead to the downfall and cancellation of the show.

The Lois Conradt Incident

Louis Conradt, an assistant district attorney in Rockwall County, Texas, shot himself in the head in 2008. This was after they saw him conversing and exchanging images with a volunteer posing as a 13-year-old kid. When NBC and local police stormed into Conradt's home with the film crew, he shot himself. 

Conradt's home was under raid by NBC and the local police because he didn't show up for a meeting. This is the only reason why NBC along with the local police went ahead to barge into Conradt's home with the crew.

The Aftermath

Now, this had caused quite the stir and was all over the news. The show did get a little bit of criticism and a few violent accusations. But in the end, no one was able to prove that the show did indeed entrap its victims. And it would almost be unethical to call them victims. As they were the true criminals and it was right to put them behind bars.

But because of the show’s nature and controversies surrounding it, it was unable to air any further in 2008; shortly after the death of Louis Conradt. Thus, after being on air for about 3 years, no new episodes came out after December 2007.

NBC’s Settlement With Louis Conradt’s Sister

Patricia Conradt, Conradt's sister, sued NBC Universal in late 2007, alleging that the police invaded Conradt's home at NBC's request. 

In January 2008, federal judge Denny Chin rejected most of Patricia Conradt's assertions. But observed that she had a reasonable prospect of proving that NBC had pressured police to use irrational and unneeded tactics. And this was purely for the entertainment factor. Thus, putting "a significant risk of suicide or other harm" in the process. 

Conradt might also show that police failed in their duty to prevent him from shooting and killing himself. And that NBC's conduct constituted "behavior so egregious and terrible that no civilized society should accept it," according to him. In June of that year, NBC and Patricia Conradt agreed on a confidential settlement.

Conclusion

We cannot deny the fact that this show was one of the most controversial forms of TV entertainment back in the early 2000s. But is the tv show ‘’to catch a predator’’ considered entrapment? I would have to say a strong no to that. The TV show simply does not fall into any category that describes entrapment. 

It’s true that the people in the show initially saw and were waiting for the perpetrators to almost commit the crime. But they did not force it onto anyone. Almost all of them had a past of pedophilic activities which makes the sting operations completely valid.  And that’s what’s important here. So, I hope this article was of help to you. Thank you for giving it a read. Hope you have a great day ahead!

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