Track coach from Chicago charged with tricking female student-athletes into sending him nudes

CHICAGO -- A former track and field coach from Chicago is charged with tricking female student-athletes through fake social media accounts into sending him nude photos.

Steve Waithe, 28, also allegedly cyberstalked at least one female student-athlete, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Waithe was arrested Wednesday in Chicago and was expected to appear in federal court that afternoon. He will appear in Boston at a later date.

Waithe was employed as a track and field coach at Northeastern University in Boston from October 2018 to February 2019, prosecutors said. During that time, Waithe frequently requested to use female athletes' cellphones under the pretense of filming their form at practice and at meets, prosecutors said. At times, he was observed scrolling through their phones.

In February 2020, Waithe allegedly duped female Northeastern University track and field athletes into sending him nude or semi-nude photos of themselves, prosecutors said. Waithe allegedly contacted them through social media accounts, stated that he had found compromising photos of them online and offered to "help" get the photos removed from the internet.

Waithe then requested additional nude or semi-nude photos that he could purportedly use for "reverse image searches," prosecutors said.

Starting in June 2020, Waithe cyberstalked at least one female Northeastern student-athlete through messages sent via social media, an anonymized phone number and intrusion into her Snapchat account, prosecutors said.

Under the purported premise of an "athlete research" or "body development" study, Waithe allegedly emailed prospective victims using the personas of "Katie Janovich" or "Kathryn Svoboda."

The emails described a phony study for athletes and requested information and photos of themselves in a "uniform or bathing suit to show as much skin as possible," prosecutors said.

The emails often included sample nude and semi-nude images of "Katie" to illustrate the types of photos that victims should send, prosecutors said. Investigators identified more than 10 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, prosecutors said.

Waithe previously worked as a track and field coach at several academic institutions, including Penn State University, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Tennessee and Concordia University Chicago.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire - Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2021.)