A former track and field coach from Chicago, who previously coached at numerous colleges and universities across the U.S., faces federal charges in connection to what prosecutors said was a scheme to trick female student-athletes into sending him nude or semi-nude photos.
Steve Waithe, 28, also allegedly cyberstalked at least one female student-athlete, according to prosecutors. He was arrested by the FBI at his home in Chicago and is expected to make a court appearance later Wednesday.
According to court documents, Waithe previously worked as a track and field coach at Northeastern University in Boston, Penn State University, Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Tennessee and Concordia University Chicago.
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Waithe was a track and field coach at Northeastern in Boston from October 2018 to February 2019, when, the school says, he was fired as a result of a university investigation into his “inappropriate conduct toward female student athletes.”
“Impacted students were provided with counseling and other resources. The university also contacted federal law enforcement officials and worked in full cooperation for the duration of the federal investigation,” Renata Nyul, a Northeastern spokesperson, said in an email.
Prosecutors allege that Waithe frequently asked to use female athletes' cell phones under the pretense of filming their form at practice and meets. At times, he was seen scrolling through the phones.
Beginning in at least February 2020, prosecutors say Waithe perpetrated a scheme to dupe female Northeastern track and field athletes into sending him nude or semi-nude photos of themselves. He allegedly contacted the victims on social media using various pseudonyms, told them he had found compromising photos of them online and offered to help get the photos removed from the internet. Under this pretense, he allegedly requested additional nude or semi-nude photos he could use for reverse image searches.
Waithe also allegedly cyberstalked at least one female Northeastern student-athlete from June 21, 2020 to Oct. 3, 2020 through messages sent via social media, an anonymous phone number and intrusion into her Snapchat account. The investigation revealed that Google records tied to Waithe included searches for information on how to hack Snapchat accounts and how to keep people from tracing a fake Instagram account back to him.
Under the premise of "athlete research" or "body development," he also allegedly emailed prospective victims using female names, describing a fake study for athletes and requesting information relating to height, weight and diet habits. The emails also included requests for victims to send photos of themselves in a uniform or bathing suit "to show as much skin as possible." Prosecutors said the emails often included attachments of sample nude and semi-nude images to illustrate the types of photos the victims should send.
Investigators said they have identified over 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.
The U.S. Attorney's Office is still looking to identify additional victims, and said anyone at Northeastern or any of the other schools where Waithe has worked who believes they might be a victim should visit their website for more information.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.