Federal charges were filed Monday against a Boston man who prosecutors say filmed dozens of videos of boys in restrooms at Boston Latin School — accusations stemming from an investigation into similar alleged activity at Boston College.
Eric Tran Thai, 36, faces five counts of sexual exploitation of children after authorities seized a trove of cameras, discreet recording devices, and computer hard drives from him following his arrest on state charges last year, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Massachusetts.
Prosecutors said that on Feb. 6 and 27, 2018, two separate Boston College students told police they were videotaped without their consent or knowledge as they used restrooms on the school’s campus, which led to Thai’s initial arrest in Middlesex County Superior Court.
In speaking to law enforcement officers, Thai allegedly admitted he took “some pictures” of a man in the stall adjacent to him without the man’s consent, according to the statement. He also allegedly told authorities he had done similar actions for approximately 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,” the statement reads.
A search of Thai’s home on March 1, 2018 yielded 26 computer hard drives, 20 thumb drives, 27 different cameras, 14 computers, iPads, and cell phones, and multiple digital storage cards, officials said.
On the computer equipment, authorities found folders labeled “BU, MIT, Harvard, Northeastern, Bunker Hill, (and) Boston Latin High School,” as well as different airports, malls, and places in foreign countries, prosecutors said in the statement.
Thai allegedly also recorded people in public restrooms both across greater Boston and in other places, officials said. The analysis of the evidence remains ongoing, they said.
Within the “Boston Latin High School” folder, authorities allegedly found 45 secretly-filmed videos of male students “in various states of dress using the urinals and stalls” in one of the school’s bathrooms, according to the statement. The videos appear to have been recorded on 10 different days between February and December 2017.
Authorities said the videos generally show Thai sitting in a stall in the school bathroom recording people in adjacent urinals and stalls by using discreet 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,” the statement reads. “While recording, it appears that Thai would simultaneously view what the camera was recording on a cellphone or a tablet device in his possession.”
Prosecutors say each charge against Thai carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and up to 30 years in prison; a fine up to $250,000; and a minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release.
He was scheduled to appear in federal court Monday afternoon.
Officials advise that members of the public who have information, questions, or concerns about the case should call the U.S. Attorney’s office at 617 748-3274.
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