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Former Northeastern track and field coach accused of tricking athletes into sending nude photos

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    BOSTON (WCVB) — A former Northeastern University track and field coach who worked at several universities is accused of tricking female student-athletes into sending him nude photos and cyberstalking at least one student-athlete.

Steve Waithe, 28, of Chicago, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of cyberstalking and one count of wire fraud.

Waithe worked as a track and field coach at Northeastern from October 2018 to February 2019. It is alleged that during that time, Waithe frequently requested to use female athletes’ cellphones under the pretense of filming their form at practice and at meets. At times, he was observed “scrolling through” the phones, officials said.

Waithe allegedly engaged in a scheme to dupe female Northeastern University track and field athletes into sending him nude or semi-nude photos of themselves.

Waithe contacted the alleged victims through social media accounts, said he had found compromising photos of them online and offered to “help” get the photos removed from the internet. He allegedly asked for additional nude or semi-nude photos that he could purportedly use for “reverse image searches.”

According to court documents, Waithe told the alleged victims: “You have to share with me basically every picture you have that you wouldn’t want on the internet which I know is uncomfortable but that’s the only way I can search them.”

Officials allege he also cyberstalked one female Northeastern student-athlete through messages sent via social media, an anonymized phone number and intrusion into her Snapchat account.

Under the premise of an “athlete research” or “body development” study, it is alleged that Waithe emailed prospective victims using the personas of “Katie Janovich” and/or “Kathryn Svoboda.”

The emails described a phony study for athletes and requested information relating to height, weight and diet habits, officials allege.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, officials allege.

The emails often included attachments of sample nude and semi-nude images of “Katie” to illustrate the types of photos that victims should send. According to court documents, investigators have identified more than 10 victims of the “body development study” scheme and over 300 related nude and semi-nude images of victims of the scheme in Waithe’s email accounts.

Northeastern University said Waithe was terminated in February 2019 “as a result of a university investigation into his inappropriate conduct toward female student athletes.”

“Mr. Waithe was employed at Northeastern from October 2018 and terminated in February 2019 as a result of a university investigation into his inappropriate conduct toward female student athletes. 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. We appreciate the diligence of the FBI and the US Attorney’s office and the actions that resulted today,” Northeastern University Vice President of Communications Renata Nyul said in a statement.

“The university does not comment on active litigation or criminal trials. All media inquiries should be referred to the United States Attorney’s office for the District of Massachusetts.”

Waithe previously worked as a track and field coach at several academic institutions, including Penn State University, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Tennessee and Concordia University Chicago.

Waithe was arrested Wednesday in Chicago and is scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois this afternoon. He will appear in Boston at a later date.

The FBI is seeking to identify other potential victims. “The university does not comment on active litigation or criminal trials. All media inquiries should be referred to the United States Attorney’s office for the District of Massachusetts.”

Waithe previously worked as a track and field coach at several academic institutions, including Penn State University, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Tennessee and Concordia University Chicago.

Waithe was arrested Wednesday in Chicago and is scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois this afternoon. He will appear in Boston at a later date.

The FBI is seeking to identify other potential victims. Officials said anyone who believes they may have been victimized by Waithe can visit this site: fbi.gov/resources/victim-services/seeking-victim-information/seeking-victims-in-the-steve-waithe-investigation

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CNN Newsource

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