BOSTON – A Boston man was arrested today and charged in federal court in Boston for surreptitiously filming boys in the restrooms at Boston Latin School (BLS).
Eric Tran Thai, 36, was charged with five counts of sexual exploitation of children. He will appear in federal court in Boston at 3:30 p.m. today.
According to court documents, on Feb. 6 and Feb. 27, 2018, two separate Boston College students reported to the police that they had been videotaped without their knowledge or consent while they were using the men’s restrooms on the Boston College campus. Following the Feb. 27, 2018, report, police located and spoke with Thai, who was then arrested on state charges in Middlesex County Superior Court.
It is alleged that while speaking with police, Thai admitted to “taking some pictures” of a man in the stall next to him without the man’s consent. He further admitted to engaging in such activity for about a year. Thai was placed under arrest on state charges and his bag was subsequently searched; in it, police found several covert camera devices, including faux smoke detectors, a water bottle containing a small cube recording device, and a pair of sunglasses outfitted with a built-in camera.
During a search of Thai’s home on March 1, 2018, law enforcement seized approximately 26 computer hard drives, 20 thumb drives, 27 covert and regular cameras, 14 computers, iPads, and cell phones, and multiple SD and Sim cards. During forensic analysis of the recovered items, investigators found several folders labeled: BU, MIT, Harvard, Northeastern, Bunker Hill, Boston Latin High School, and several different malls, airports, and foreign country locations. Given the amount of data seized by investigators, forensic analysis is ongoing.
It is alleged that the videos contained in folders labeled “Boston Latin High School” contained approximately 45 surreptitiously-recorded videos of male students in various states of dress using the urinals and stalls in a Boston Latin High School boys’ bathroom. The videos appear to have been created on approximately 10 separate dates between February and December 2017.
In general, the videos show Thai sitting in a bathroom stall at Boston Latin High School recording individuals in adjacent stalls or at the urinals through various secret recording methods. In some videos, Thai appears to hold a camera over the top of the partition between the bathroom stalls and videotaping from overhead. In other instances, he appears to hide a small camera inside of his backpack, place the backpack on the bathroom floor and videotape individuals in the adjacent bathroom stall from under the stall’s partition. While recording, it appears that Thai would simultaneously view what the camera was recording on a cellphone or a tablet device in his possession. Based on this evidence, Thai was charged with five counts of sexual exploitation of children in violation of federal law.
The defendant also allegedly surreptitiously video recorded individuals in numerous public restroom locations throughout greater Boston and elsewhere.
Members of the public who have questions, concerns, or information about this case should contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 617-748-3274.
Each charge of sexual exploitation of children provides for a mandatory minimum 15 years and up to 30 years in prison, a minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan; Boston Police Commissioner William G. Gross; and Boston College Police Chief William B. Evans made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Paruti, Lelling’s Project Safe Childhood Coordinator and a member of his Major Crimes Unit, is prosecuting the case.
The case is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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