National Roundup

Man who made secret recordings in restroom pleads guilty

BOSTON (AP) — A Boston man who authorities say secretly recorded boys using the restrooms at a city high school has pleaded guilty to child pornography charges, federal prosecutors say.

Eric Tran Thai, 36, faces up to 15 years in prison under the terms of a plea agreement, according to statement Tuesday from the office of U.S. Attorney for Boston. Sentencing is scheduled for May 13.

Authorities started investigating in February 2018 after two Boston College students complained to campus police that someone had recorded them without their consent using the restrooms at the school. Thai was detained and during a search of his bag police found several covert camera devices, including fake smoke detectors, a water bottle containing a small recording device, and a pair of sunglasses outfitted with a built-in camera, prosecutors said.

Investigators who searched his home found numerous electronic devices containing electronic folders labeled BU, MIT, Harvard, Northeastern, Bunker Hill, Boston Latin High School, and different malls, airports and foreign countries, prosecutors said.

He was charged in connection with folders labeled Boston Latin — the nation's oldest public high school — which contained about 45 secretly recorded videos of male students using the restroom created between February and December 2017, prosecutors said.

Priest who spoke at Sen. Kennedy's funeral denies sex abuse

BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest who delivered the homily at U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy's funeral in 2009 has pleaded not guilty to child sexual abuse.

The Rev. Mark Hession was released on $2,500 bail Monday after his arraignment in Barnstable Superior Court in Massachusetts on two counts of rape, indecent assault and battery on a child younger than 14 and witness intimidation, the Cape Cod Times  reported.

His passport was confiscated, and he was ordered to stay away from the accuser.

One of Hession's attorneys, Joseph Griffin, declined comment when reached by telephone on Tuesday.

Hession was ordained in 1984 and served at nearly a dozen parishes in southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod.

He is charged with assaulting a child on multiple occasions between 2005 and 2008, according to court documents.

Hession has been suspended from ministry by the Diocese of Fall River since 2019, after he sent what the diocese called "inappropriate communications to several adult parishioners."

New Jersey
Leagues resolve lawsuit over  sports betting block

A resolution is at hand in a lawsuit over millions of dollars stemming from New Jersey's years-long battle to overturn a federal ban on sports betting.

According to a judge's order entered Monday in Trenton, the major pro sports leagues and the NCAA have reached an agreement with the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, the group that sought to open a sports betting site at Monmouth Park Racetrack in 2014 when the federal ban was still in place.

The U.S. Supreme Court didn't overturn the federal sports betting ban until 2018, but the horsemen's association had sought to recover a $3.4 million bond the leagues had posted in the fall of 2014 when they convinced a judge to issue a restraining order to stop the track from offering sports betting while the federal case was still being litigated.

The bond was meant to secure losses the track might suffer for the month the restraining order was in place.

U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson's order entered Monday didn't specify the amount of the settlement. It is expected to be finalized within the next 30 days.

In an opinion last month, Wolfson had expressed skepticism that the NJTHA had demonstrated it had suffered damages equal to the bond amount during the month the restraining order was in effect.

In the same opinion, she rejected the group's attempt to recover damages as high as $150 million, representing lost revenue for being prevented from offering sports betting at the track for the three and a half years between the issuance of the restraining order and the Supreme Court's 2018 decision.

The NJTHA argued that the leagues acted in bad faith in 2014 when they applied for the restraining order because the leagues were already promoting and endorsing businesses that made millions from fantasy sports games that relied on individual player performances. The leagues denied those claims.

"The New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, National Collegiate Athletic Association, National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball have resolved all disputes arising out of their litigation concerning the legalization of sports gambling in the State of New Jersey," Anthony Dreyer, an attorney representing the leagues, said in an email Monday. "The parties are pleased to conclude this matter."

An attorney representing the NJTHA declined to comment on the settlement.

New York
Ghislaine Maxwell appeals bail rejection in sex abuse case

NEW YORK (AP) — The British socialite awaiting trial on charges that she recruited girls in the 1990s for Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse is appealing a judge's order that she remain jailed.

Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell notified a trial judge Monday of plans to appeal her decision two weeks ago to reject a $28.5 million bail package for Maxwell.

The notice of appeal was posted publicly on Tuesday in the Manhattan federal court record.

In late December, a federal judge in Manhattan said the bail package proposed by defense lawyers only strengthened her confidence that her decision over the summer to keep Maxwell incarcerated until the July trial was correct.

The bail package included $22.5 million that lawyers said amounted to all of Maxwell and her husband's assets. They also said she would be under 24-hour guard and restricted to a New York City apartment where she would wear an electronic bracelet.

Prosecutors opposed bail, saying Maxwell remained a threat to flee in part because she had access to considerable wealth and connections abroad. They also noted that she is a citizen of the United States, the United Kingdom and France.

Maxwell, housed at a federal lockup in Brooklyn, pleaded not guilty after her July arrest to charges that she recruited and groomed girls for Epstein, including one who was 14 years old.

Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan federal jail in August 2019 as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.