Federal authorities arrested Steve Waithe, a former college track and field coach, on Wednesday and charged him with wire fraud and carrying out a cyberstalking scheme to convince female athletes to send him nude and seminude photographs online, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Waithe was most recently the women’s track and field coach for Northeastern University in Boston until February 2019, a university statement said. He allegedly confiscated athletes’ cellphones during practice and competitions and searched for nude or seminude photos of the women stored on their phones and then forwarded the photos to himself, The Washington Post reported.
Waithe is accused of then contacting the athletes through social media accounts unattached to his name, often pretending to be someone who could help wipe the internet of the nude photos that he had “found” of them, the DOJ release said. He allegedly told the athletes he would need more nude or seminude photos in order to do a “reverse image search” for others online, collecting more inappropriate photos of the women, the release said. He was also accused of pretending to be a “body development” researcher in order to convince the athletes to send nude or seminude photos, the release said.
Waithe collected hundreds of photos from at least 10 Northeastern athletes and former athletes through the scheme, the DOJ said. Before coming to Northeastern, Waithe coached at Pennsylvania State University, Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Tennessee and Concordia University Chicago. He could face up to 25 years in prison, the Post reported.
Waithe was fired from Northeastern after about four months due to “his inappropriate conduct toward female student athletes,” the university statement said.
“Impacted students were provided with resources for counseling and holistic support for their well-being,” the statement said. “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.”