Former track and field coach charged in nude photo scheme

Crime

BOSTON, Ma. (WTAJ) — A former track and field coach, who has local ties to Pennsylvania, has been arrested and faces federal charges in connection to a scheme that coerced female student-athletes into sending him semi-nude or nude photos, according to the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Massachusetts officials say Steve Waithe, a 28 year-old man from Chicago, has been charged with one count of cyber-stalking and one count of wire fraud.

According to court documents, Waithe was employed as a coach for Northeastern University in Boston from October 2018 to February 2019, where he allegedly requested to use his female student-athletes phones’ to film them at practice or at meets, but was seen “scrolling through the phones.”

Then, in February of 2020, officials say Waithe created a scheme to trick female track and field student-athletes at Northeastern to send him semi-nude or nude photos by using fake social media accounts. Court documents say Waithe would contact the victims, saying he found compromising photos of the victims and offered to assist them in getting the photos removed from the internet.

In addition, officials add that Waithe used fake aliases on social media, such as “Privacy Protector,” “Katie Janovich,” and “Anon” followed by random numbers.

Court documents also say Waithe devised another scheme to email fake “athlete research” or “body development” studies that encouraged his victims to give them personal information such as height, weight dietary habits. The email from Waithe, who once again used an alias to trick his victims, also included “sample” nude or semi-nude photos for the student-athletes to send as part of the scheme.

Investigators say they have identified 10 victims of the “study” and found at least 300 related nude and semi-nude images of victims from the scheme in Waithe’s email accounts.

Prior to beginning his coaching career, Waithe was a track and field athlete Penn State University, where he competed in the Men’s Triple Jump Championship in 2014. He also competed for Shippensburg University prior to transferring to Penn State in 2013.

Waithe spent the 2015-2016 season as a volunteer coach on Penn State’s track and field staff as well.

Before joining Northeastern’s staff in 2018, Waithe served as the interim coach for the University of Tennessee. Waithe left Northeastern University in 2019 due to a sexual harassment allegation, which lead to a Title XI investigation, according to the affidavit.

Officials say shortly after leaving the job, he was hired by Concordia University Chicago as an assistant track coach.

Prosecutors say Waithe is scheduled to appear in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois this afternoon, and will appear in Boston at a later date.

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