A Dorchester man who was originally arrested by the Boston College Police Department in 2018 was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison and five years on probation for possession of child pornography in U.S. District Court on May 13.
In a sentencing memorandum available through the public record, the prosecution asked the district court for a minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.
“The government recognizes that it is difficult to quantify exactly how many months would satisfy the Court’s obligation to impose a sentence that is just, … and that would protect the most vulnerable members of our society,” the memorandum reads. “A significant sentence is necessary to reflect the gravity of the defendant’s crimes.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) announced in January that 36-year-old Eric Tran Thai plead guilty 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 School in 2017.
Thai was originally arrested in 2018 by BCPD for videotaping male BC students while they were using men’s restrooms on campus during the spring semester of that year. BCPD received reports about Thai from students on two separate occasions—Feb. 6 and Feb. 27—for videotaping them without their knowledge or consent.
Following the second student report, BCPD officers found Thai using a small tablet in a bathroom stall in O’Neill Library, according to redacted BCPD reports available through the public record.
After the BC students confirmed to officers that Thai was the man allegedly videotaping them, Thai was arrested by BCPD and brought in for questioning. It was during this period of questioning that BCPD confirmed that Thai was the man who allegedly videotaped another student in McElroy Commons on Feb. 6.
Thai, who was subsequently banned from campus, was arrested again on state charges that are still pending at Middlesex County Superior Court.
During a search of Thai’s home following the 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,” the USAO announced in January.
Police also 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—in Thai’s bag.
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 of that year. At that time, he was released to house arrest with location monitoring under the condition that there were no computers in his home.
The University did not respond to a request for comment from The Heights.
U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young said to Thai in his sentencing on May 13 that the court and prosecution have been “sensitive” in their assessment of his crimes.
“I take into account all factors, but I’m sentencing you for crimes committed against these children, the specific charges to which you pleaded guilty,” Young said. “I hope you truly understand the invasion, absolutely impermissible and forbidden invasion that you made into their lives. … This is a fair and a just sentence. The Court has no hesitancy in imposing it.”
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor