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Former Northeastern University track coach arrested for alleged nude photo scheme

The FBI reportedly found hundreds of nude and semi-nude photos of female athletes on Steve Waithe's email accounts

The FBI has arrested former Northeastern University track and field coach Steve Waithe, 28, following an investigation that tied him to a scheme used to receive nude photos from female student-athletes. Waithe, who coached at Northeastern in Boston from October 2018 until February 2019, was arrested at his home in Chicago. He made his first appearance in court on Wednesday in Illinois and is expected in a Boston court at a later date.

In his short time at Northeastern, Waithe reportedly asked for the phones of his female athletes so he could use them to film the women’s form in practice and at meets. According to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts, Waithe was seen “scrolling through” the phones on multiple occasions. 

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Investigators allege that Waithe’s nude photo scheme began no later than February 2020. Using anonymous social media accounts, he would allegedly contact female student athletes and say he had seen nude photos of them online. Offering his help to remove the photos from the Internet, investigators say that Waithe would then request more nude or semi-nude pictures from the women, claiming he could use them for “reverse image searches” to locate any other photos that were online. 

Waithe, who reportedly worked as a coach at several other universities, is alleged to have used many fake social media accounts, including one titled “Privacy Protector.” According to court documents, Waithe also cyberstalked one of his former Northeastern athletes from at least June to October 2020. 

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In addition to the reverse image search scheme with accounts like “Privacy Protector,” it is also alleged that Waithe emailed female athletes for “athlete research” and “body development” studies. These emails, which Waithe also sent under pseudonyms, asked for the height, weight and diet habits of the women. The emails also requested the women send photos of themselves in a “uniform or bathing suit to show as much skin as possible.” 

These requests were often paired with sample nude and semi-nude photos of “Katie,” Waithe’s alleged pseudonym, to show prospective victims what kind of pictures to take. Court documents note that investigators have found more than 10 victims in this scheme, and they discovered more than 300 nude and semi-nude photos in Waithe’s multiple email accounts.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, cyberstalking charges can lead to a prison sentence of up to five years, plus a fine of $250,000. Someone charged with wire fraud (which is how the body development scheme will be viewed in court) can be sentenced up to 20 years in prison.

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