Prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts have accused a former Northeastern University track and field coach of tricking several female student-athletes into sending him their nude photographs.
According to a press release, 28-year-old Steve Waithe was arrested on Wednesday. He was arraigned in court the same day on the charges of one count of cyberstalking and one count of wire fraud.
Per the charging documents, Waithe worked as a track and field coach at Boston’s Northeastern University between October 2018 and February 2019. During his time at the institution, prosecutors say he regularly tricked female athletes into giving him their phones under the guise of “filming their form at practice and at meets.” While he had their phones in his possession, he was occasionally seen “scrolling through” them.
Prosecutors also say Waithe masterminded a scheme where he tricked female athletes at the university into sending him either nude or semi-nude photos of themselves. Through fake social media accounts, Waithe would allegedly get in touch with the victims and tell them he has discovered “compromising” images of them on the internet and would then play the good Samaritan by offering to “help” remove the said images online. Using that frame-up, Waithe would then ask the victims to send him either nude or semi-nude photos of themselves so he can use them for “reverse image searches,” the statement said.
In addition to the aforementioned allegations, Waithe is also accused of cyberstalking at least one female student-athlete at the university. Prosecutors say he did that “through messages sent via social media, an anonymized phone number and intrusion into her Snapchat account.”
“The investigation revealed that internet search and browsing history tied to Waithe allegedly included searches for information on how to hack Snapchat accounts and visits to webpages with titles like, ‘Can anyone trace my fake Instagram account back to me?’,” the statement added.
The accused, however, did not stop at that. Prosecutors said Waithe also emailed victims asking them to send him their photos under the guise of “athlete research” or “body development” study. Using aliases, Waithe would ask the victims to send him photos of themselves in a “uniform or bathing suit to show as much skin as possible.” He would also tell them that their photos won’t be circulated or saved, going as far as even attaching a sample image to illustrate the kind of photo he wants them to send. Over 300 nude and semi-nude photos related to the so-called “study” were discovered in Waithe’s email accounts and over 10 of his victims were identified, prosecutors said.
Besides Northeastern University, Waithe was also a former track and field coach at a host of other institutions including the University of Tennessee, Penn State University, Concordia University and Chicago Illinois Institute of Technology.
Waithe would appear in court again on Friday for a judge to rule if he should remain in custody following an argument by prosecutors that he could possibly attempt to intimidate his victims if he’s granted bail, The Associated Press reported. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate McClelland also labeled his actions as “brazen and predatory.”
Waithe’s attorney, however, argued his client has a clean criminal history and he hasn’t been accused of publicly sharing the images or going after people he did not receive photos from. The accused faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for the cyberstalking charge. He also faces up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for the wire fraud charge, prosecutors said.