A former college track and field coach has admitted to an elaborate, deceptive and desperate scheme to obtain nude photos from athletes he coached and other young women across the country.
Steve Waithe, 30, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, cyberstalking and computer fraud in Boston federal court, Reuters reported.
Waithe was a track and field coach at Northeastern University in Boston from October 2018 to February 2019, when he was fired. During his time at the school, Waithe often asked athletes to borrow their phones, telling them he would film them at practice, according to investigators.
But the athletes observed Waithe scrolling through their phones, and the feds learned that he was searching their photos and videos for revealing pictures, then covertly sending the snaps to himself.
After Waithe was fired amid a Title IX investigation, he did not give up on his perverted quest to obtain nude photos of young women, the feds said.
Beginning in February 2020, Waithe anonymously messaged six Northeastern track and field athletes through fake Instagram accounts, claiming he had found nude photos of them on the internet. Waithe told the women that if they sent him more photos, he could do “reverse image” searches and scrub any trace from the internet, according to investigators.
None of the women fell for the ruse, but Waithe zeroed in on one athlete, convincing her to give him access to her Snapchat account. With that access, Waithe obtained more nude photos of the woman, which he sent to her boyfriend through anonymous Instagram messages, federal prosecutors said.
Waithe’s scheming did not stop there. Using various Google accounts with fake names such as “Katie Janovich” and “Kathryn Svoboda,” Waithe emailed dozens of women throughout the country to participate in a completely made-up “body development” study.
The emails asked the women to provide pictures in a “uniform or bathing suit to show as much skin as possible.” While many went unanswered, Waithe received more than 350 revealing photos from more than 49 victims, according to investigators.
Prosecutors will ask for Waithe to spend nearly four years in federal prison, while his defense attorneys want just over two years, Reuters reported. Either way, Waithe will be credited with 14 months he’s already spent behind bars.