Former Northeastern University Track Coach Allegedly Tricked Female Student Athletes into Sending Nude Photos
Steve Waithe, 28, is facing one count of cyberstalking and one count of wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts said
A former Northeastern University track and field coach was arrested Wednesday after allegedly tricking female student athletes into sending him nude photos.
Steve Waithe, 28, is facing one count of cyberstalking and one count of wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts said in a news release.
He allegedly "used his position to steal compromising photos of women on the team from their cellphones and attempted to extort, stalk, and otherwise harass the victims, largely through dummy social media accounts," according to prosecutors.
A sworn affidavit filed in federal court Wednesday says that while Waithe was a track and field coach at Northeastern University from October 2018 to February 2019, he would allegedly ask to use female athletes' phones under the pretense of filming their form.
He was also sometimes seen "scrolling through" their phones, according to federal authorities.
Starting around February 2020, Waithe allegedly began creating fake social media accounts to contact female athletes at Northeastern and ask for nude or semi-nude photos of them.
Waithe would message the athletes and tell them that he had found compromising photos of them online. He would then offer to help remove the images from the internet and request another nude photo for "reverse image searches," prosecutors said.
The former coach also allegedly emailed female athletes, claiming to be conducting "athlete research" or "body development" studies, requesting that the student athletes send photos of themselves in a "uniform or bathing suit to show as much skin as possible."
According to federal authorities, Waithe suggested the photos would not be shared or saved, and they sometimes even included "sample nude and semi-nude images" to illustrate the types of photos that the women should send.
Investigators have identified more than 10 victims in the scheme and more than 300 nude or semi-nude images of female student athletes in Waithe's email accounts, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
In addition to the nude photo scheme, Waithe is also accused of cyberstalking at least one female Northeastern athlete through "messages sent via social media, an anonymized phone number and intrusion into her Snapchat account," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Waithe was previously a track and field coach at Penn State University, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Tennessee and Concordia University Chicago. He was also formerly a student athlete at Penn State.
Waithe appeared in federal court Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. It is not clear if he has entered a plea at this time.
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A hearing has been set for Friday to determine if he should remain detained after Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate McClelland called his conduct "brazen and predatory," adding that authorities think he may try to intimidate the victims if released, AP reports.
Waithe's attorney, Jack Corfman, reportedly pointed out in court Wednesday that Waithe has no criminal history. He added that Waithe is not accused of publicly releasing the images or retaliating against anyone who didn't send him photos.
Corfman did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
If convicted as charged, Waithe could face up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for cyberstalking and up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for wire fraud.