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Coach indicted after plot to get nude photos, feds say


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A former track and field coach was indicted after schemes to get nude photos from female student-athletes, feds say.

A former track and field coach has been indicted after orchestrating schemes to get nude or semi-nude photos from female student-athletes sent to him, federal prosecutors say.

The 15-count indictment charges Steve Waithe, 28, with 12 counts of wire fraud, one count of cyberstalking, one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and one count of computer fraud, aiding and abetting, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Massachusetts announced Dec. 2.

He formerly coached at Northeastern University, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Tennessee and Concordia University Chicago, officials say. While officials also said Waithe coached at Penn State, a campus spokesperson told the Centre Daily Times he had a role as “student coach” from 2014-15 and was not in an official coaching capacity.

After his initial arrest in April, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate McClelland referred to Waithe’s actions as “brazen and predatory,” The Associated Press reported. Waithe’s attorney has not responded to a request for comment by McClatchy News.

Waithe used anonymous social media accounts, including usernames “anon.4887” and variations of the phrase “Privacy Protector,” in his attempts to gain photos of women on Instagram. The scheme began in February 2020, one year after he left Northeastern University in Boston, according to federal authorities.

He contacted current and former members of the track and field team on Instagram under the fake accounts, starting conversations by sending a compromising photo of them. He claimed he found the photos online and offered to help remove them from the internet, but only if they sent him additional nude or semi-nude photos he could use for “reverse image searches,” according to the indictment.

Separately, he contacted victims under the fabricated names “Katie Jaonvich” and “Kathryn Svoboda.” He emailed victims for a fake “body development study,” requesting victims send photos of themselves to track their progress in the study.

“Pictures of you from your competition days preferably in a uniform or bathing suit to show as much skin as possible,. And then the same now,” Waithe asked one of the victims, according to federal prosecutors. “Most women have just sent a bunch of pictures in a bra and a thong because it shows the most. Regular deep cut bras are best (and) if you want to go topless women have done that too because the easiest places the body usually shows changes is the butt and breasts.”

At least 17 women responded, sending Waithe, under his pseudonyms, more than 350 nude or semi-nude photos, the indictment states.

Forty-nine women from across the U.S. were victims of Waithe’s defrauding, officials allege.

Waithe is also accused of cyberstalking a member of the Northeastern track and field team, as well as hacking into her Snapchat account. Officials say he gained access to nude photos of the woman and messaged her on Instagram from a “privacy protector” account.

He also messaged her boyfriend under the same account on Instagram.

“I wanted to make you aware that someone hacked your girlfriend’s Snapchat account and will leak it soon,” he allegedly told the boyfriend. “I need your help to assure this does not happen.”

Waithe later sent the woman a text message from an anonymous phone number, attaching a photograph of herself with the question, “Is this you?” federal officials say.

Officials allege Waithe searched on the internet for ways to hack a person’s Snapchat account and he visited websites to learn if anyone can trace a fake Instagram account.

He was fired from Northeastern after “inappropriate conduct toward female student athletes,” a Northeastern spokesperson told AP.

Waithe then worked at Concordia University Chicago, and officials there did not have any reports of misconduct by Waithe, the AP reported. Officials at University of Tennessee were also unaware of any issues involving Waithe when he coached there, according to KnoxNews.com.

Waithe competed on Penn State’s track and field team from 2014-15 and had a role of a student coach, the Centre Daily Times reported in April.

He is scheduled to appear in federal court in Boston on Dec. 9, according to the news release.

Mike Stunson covers real-time news for McClatchy. He is a 2011 Western Kentucky University graduate who has previously worked at the Paducah Sun and Madisonville Messenger as a sports reporter and the Lexington Herald-Leader as a breaking news reporter.
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