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Man Originally Arrested by BCPD Pleads Guilty to Possession of Child Pornography

Eric Tran Thai, a 36-year-old man from Dorchester, Mass., plead guilty on Monday to two federal counts of possession of child pornography in connection with approximately 45 secretly recorded videos of male students in the boy’s bathrooms at Boston Latin High School, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) on Tuesday. 

Thai was originally placed under investigation in 2018 after two Boston College students reported that Thai videotaped them without their knowledge or consent while they were using the men’s restrooms on BC’s campus on Feb. 6 and Feb. 27 of that year.

The two counts include knowingly possessing materials that contained images of child pornography that had been obtained or produced through using or affecting interstate commerce, including by computer, between February of 2017 and March of 2018, according to court documents.   

The USAO’s Tuesday statement said that the government will recommend that the federal district court sentence Thai to between 108 and 180 months in prison, in accordance with the terms of the plea agreement.  

Following the Feb. 27, 2018 student report to the BC Police Department, BCPD officers found Thai in a bathroom stall in O’Neill Library using a small tablet, according to redacted BCPD reports available through public record. 

After BC students confirmed to the officers that Thai was the man allegedly videotaping them, BCPD arrested Thai and brought him in for further questioning. 

During the questioning, BCPD confirmed that Thai previously had a run-in with another male student on Feb. 6 over a videotaping that took place in McElroy Commons. Thai was banned from campus following his initial arrest by BCPD in 2018 and subsequently arrested on state charges that are still pending at Middlesex County Superior Court.

During a search of Thai’s home following his arrest, police discovered “dozens of devices,” including covert cameras, hard drives, and electronic folders labeled “BU, MIT, Harvard, Northeastern, Bunker Hill, Boston Latin High School, and several different malls, airports and foreign country locations,” according to the USAO’s statement.

In Thai’s bag, police found multiple covert camera devices, including a water bottle containing a small cube recording device, sunglasses outfitted with a built-in camera, and faux smoke detectors. 

Thai was arrested by the FBI on March 11, 2019 and charged with five counts of sexual exploitation of children. He was later indicted on four of the counts by a federal jury, and entered a not guilty plea to all four counts on April 9, 2019. At that time, he was released to house arrest with location monitoring under the condition that there were no computers in his home.

In a statement to The Heights on Friday, Associate Vice President of University Communications Jack Dunn praised the two BC students, the FBI, and BCPD Detective Kevin Christopher for their roles in the investigation and prosecution.

“We are pleased that Eric Tran Thai has plead guilty to the federal counts of possession of child pornography,” Dunn said. “He was arrested in 2018 by Detective Kevin Christopher, who executed the search warrant that recovered the evidence used by prosecutors. We are grateful to Detective Christopher for his good police work, to the FBI, and to the two BC students who stepped forth after realizing they had been surreptitiously filmed by Mr. Thai while on campus.” 

Dunn said that BC awaits Thai’s sentencing in May of 2021, and that the additional charges are pending in Middlesex Superior Court.

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

January 16, 2021

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