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BOSTON (CBS) – Steve Waithe, a former Northeastern track and field coach, was arrested Wednesday on charges he allegedly engaged in a scheme to dupe female student-athletes into sending nude pictures to him. He’s also accused of cyberstalking at least one woman.
Waithe, 28, was taken into custody in Chicago where he currently lives. He’s charged with cyberstalking and one count of wire fraud.
During a court federal court appearance in Illinois on Wednesday, the judge ordered Waithe held until a Friday hearing. The judge said Waithe is not a flight risk, but is a potential risk to victims since there has been intimidation in the past.
Waithe coached at Northeastern from October 2018 until February 2019, when the university said he was fired after the school’s investigation into his “inappropriate conduct toward female student athletes.”
According to federal prosecutors, Waithe frequently asked the women to use their phones to record video of them working out at practice and at meets. The women told investigators they saw him “scrolling through” their phones.
A year after he left Northeastern, in February 2020, investigators said Waithe started a scheme to dupe women on Northeastern’s track and field team to send him nude or semi-nude photos of themselves.
“Waithe contacted the alleged victims through social media accounts, stated that he had found compromising photos of them online and offered to ‘help’ get the photos removed from the internet,” Acting U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Mendell’s office said in a statement:
“Under this pretense, it is alleged that Waithe requested additional nude or semi-nude photos that he could purportedly use for ‘reverse image searches.’ He used various pseudonyms on social media including variations of the phrase ‘Privacy Protector,’ ‘Katie Janovich,’ and ‘Anon’ followed by various numbers.“
Federal prosecutors also said Waithe emailed more than ten women about a fake study on body development, asking them for information about their height, weight and what they eat.
“The emails also included a request for the victims to send photos of themselves in a ‘uniform or bathing suit to show as much skin as possible’ and suggested that the photos would not be shared or saved. The emails often included attachments of sample nude and semi-nude images of ‘Katie’ to illustrate the types of photos that victims should send,” Mendell’s office said.
Investigators said they later found 300 nude and semi-nude photos from the scheme in Waithe’s email accounts.
They also said Waithe cyberstalked at least one woman at Northeastern from June 21, 2020 to Oct. 3, 2020 using social media, an anonymized phone number and Snapchat.
Waithe allegedly searched the web for information on how to hack Snapchat accounts and researched how fake Instagram accounts work.
“Impacted students were provided with resources for counseling and holistic support for their wellbeing. The Northeastern University Police Department also alerted federal law enforcement officials and worked in full cooperation for the duration of the federal investigation,” Northeastern spokesperson Renata Nyul said in a statement Wednesday.
“We appreciate the diligence of the FBI and the US Attorney’s office and the actions that resulted today.”
Waithe also worked as a track and field coach at Penn State, the Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Tennessee and Concordia University Chicago, according to prosecutors.
If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and up to five years for cyberstalking.
If you or someone you know may have been a victim, federal prosecutors say you should visit fbi.gov/TFCoach.
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