Former track coach duped female athletes into sending nude photos, U.S. prosecutors allege




  • In US
  • 2021-04-07 16:24:24Z
  • By Reuters

By Nate Raymond

BOSTON (Reuters) - A former track and field coach at Northeastern University and other schools was arrested on Wednesday on charges that he perpetrated a scheme to trick female student-athletes to send him nude or semi-nude photos through sham social media accounts.

Federal prosecutors in Boston said Steve Waithe, 28, through pseudonyms contacted Northeastern athletes on social media to dupe them into believing he had found compromising photos of them online and could help remove them if they sent him additional nude photos.

He was arrested in Chicago, where he now resides, on charges of cyberstalking and wire fraud. A defense lawyer could not be immediately identified. Northeastern did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Waithe worked at Northeastern in Boston from October 2018 to February 2019. He has also coached at other schools including Penn State University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Tennessee and Concordia University Chicago.

The scheme to trick Northeastern athletes into sending him nude photos began in February 2020, prosecutors said.

Under the Instagram alias "privacyprotector," he told one victim that his job was "image scrubbing" and asked for any "pictures of you nude currently that I can use as reference," according to a criminal complaint.

Prosecutors said he also cyberstalked one female athlete online and, claiming to be from Snapchat's support team, tricked her into providing her passcode and obtained nude photos.

Under the name "Katie Janovich" or "Kathryn Svoboda" and the premise of an "athlete research" or "body development" study, he emailed athletes and requested photos of them in a "uniform or bathing suit to show as much skin as possible," the complaint alleges.

More than 10 people were victimized by that "body development study" scheme, prosecutors said, adding investigators had identified over 300 related nude and semi-nude images of his victims in Waithe's email accounts.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Howard Goller)

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