The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts announced a former track and field coach had been arrested for manipulating female athletes to send nudes.
Steve Waithe, 28, was taken into custody on Wednesday for his alleged involvement in a scheme to trick female athletes into sending nude and semi-nude images of themselves, per People.
“Waithe was employed as a track and field coach at Northeastern University in Boston from October 2018 to February 2019,” per a press release. “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.”
The suspect would contact individuals through social media and request that they send nudes because he allegedly discovered nude photos of them online and felt the need to do a reverse image search. Waithe would use pseudonyms on social media, including phrases like “Privacy Protector,” followed by numbers to commit the scheme.
Some of his requests to victims were very specific, and he would tell them what to wear.
According to a statement from the attorney’s office, “The emails described a phony study for athletes and requested information relating to height, weight, and diet habits. 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.”
“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 ten 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 statement continued.
The former coach is being charged with one count of cyberstalking and one count of wire fraud. If convicted, Waithe could face up to five years in prison and three years of supervised release. He would also be responsible for a fine of $250,000. If the wire fraud charge sticks, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
The search history of Waithe’s online activity showed results such as “Can anyone trace my fake Instagram account back to me?” and inquiries on how to hack a Snapchat account. He used social media messages to stalk one female Northeastern student-athlete and “an anonymized phone number and intrusion into her Snapchat account.”
Waithe also worked at several other intuitions such as Penn State University, University of Tennessee, Concordia University Chicago, and Illinois Institute of Technology.
On Friday, a court hearing will be held regarding if Waithe should be released from detainment.
Waithe’s attorney, Jack Corfman, said his client has no criminal history and did not release the images publicly. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate McClelland called the act “brazen and predatory.”
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