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Boys in elite school’s restrooms recorded by alumnus’s hidden camera, agents say

An alumnus of one of the nation’s top high schools allegedly returned to the campus to secretly record boys in the restrooms.
Eric Tran Thai, 36, of Dorchester, Mass., is accused of planting cameras in restrooms at Boston Latin School  10 times over a one-year period. He has massive video files going back nearly two decades that federal agents are still combing through, the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston said Monday.
Thai graduated in 2000 from Boston Latin, the nation’s oldest school. It is public, but admissions — based on an entrance test and grades — are very competitive, and it is regularly ranked among the top high schools in the nation.
Thai was charged Monday with five counts of sexual exploitation of boys at the Latin School. He was held on $10,000 bond with home detention at his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Boston and faces up to 30 years in jail for each of the five counts.
He allegedly planted other cameras at “Harvard, MIT, BU, Northeastern, Bunker Hill, Target and several malls, airports and in foreign countries,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
“While recording, it appears that Thai would simultaneously view what the camera was recording on a cellphone or a tablet device in his possession” and adjust the lens, according to an FBI affidavit.
Investigators uncovered about 20 terabytes of data from Thai — a cache large enough to hold 20,000 hours of video — including 45 hidden-camera clips taken from inside boys’ bathrooms at Boston Latin School, the affidavit states.
The feds said he recorded video of teen boys in the school’s bathrooms from February to December of 2017. The video shows the boys using the stalls and urinals, “masturbating” and in “various state(s) of undress,” the affidavit states.
Boston Latin officials were made aware of the bathroom video a year ago, but only informed all  parents in a letter sent out Monday. Parents of the five alleged victims were alerted to the discovery of the video in the past weeks, according to the affidavit, and those parents “positively identified” their teen-age boys — including one who was only 13 or 14 years old at the time. Other stunned students told the Herald they were shocked to learn of the news from reporters.
“We informed BLS families about this investigation when we were given clearance by law enforcement authorities, including the FBI, the United States Attorney’s Office, and other agencies. The nature of the investigation was confidential from the start,” said school spokesman Dan O’Brien.
“We are reviewing our safety protocols to understand how this happened and how to prevent it from happening again,” he added.
Interim BPS Superintendent Laura Perille said she is “horrified by the allegations” and the Latin school administration is working to support “victims of this disturbing situation.”
They are also beefing up security, adding staff at entrances, “expanding” the police presence and installing more security cameras. O’Brien said the suspect gained entrance to the school “outside of regular school hours.” He added nobody was in danger during the investigation.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he is “outraged,” adding the “allegations are incredibly disturbing and counselors are being made available to any students or faculty that need additional support.”
Two Boston College students helped break open the case when they reported being taped in the men’s room at the Heights in February of 2018, the feds said. Thai was caught in a BC bathroom stall with some of his snooping devices that same month, according to the affidavit.
His Dorchester home was searched where the FBI reported finding 27 “covert and regular cameras,” 14 computers, “faux smoke detectors” with cameras, sunglasses “outfitted with a built-in camera” and a water bottle “containing a small cube recording device.”

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