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Afternoon Edition: April 7, 2021

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

A former track and field coach at Boston’s Northeastern University was arrested Wednesday and charged with using bogus social media accounts to try to trick female student-athletes into sending him nude photos of themselves, prosecutors said.
AP Photo

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms and a high near 78 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 58 degrees. More rain is in the forecast for tomorrow, mainly before 1 p.m.; the high will be near 63 degrees.

Top story

Track coach from Chicago charged with duping Boston student athletes into sharing nude pics

Federal authorities today accused a track and field coach from Chicago of trying to trick female athletes from a Boston university into sending him nude photos of themselves through sham social media accounts.

Prosecutors say they discovered more than 300 nude and semi-nude images of victims in the email accounts of Steve Waithe, 28, and that victims received more than 100 Instagram messages amid one of his schemes. The allegations revolve around Waithe’s work as a track and field coach at Boston’s Northeastern University from October 2018 until February 2019.

Waithe also worked as a track and field coach at Concordia University and the Illinois Institute of Technology, according to a 15-page criminal complaint. He is charged in federal court in Boston with one count of cyberstalking and one count of wire fraud, and he was due to appear in federal court in Chicago following his arrest here today.

Waithe’s conduct during his first semester at Northeastern led to multiple sexual harassment reports and a Title IX investigation, according to the complaint. Seven months after Waithe left the school in Boston, a September 2019 tweet from Concordia University Chicago Athletics announced that Waithe had joined the track and field staff there.

During his employment at Northeastern, Waithe routinely asked to use the cellphones of student athletes to record their form at practice and meets, the complaint stated.

However, the feds say Waithe was also spotted “scrolling through” the phones of the student athletes. And on at least one occasion, he had a female student athlete’s phone for several hours. One victim alleged that Waithe had her phone on multiple occasions for “extended periods of time.”

The feds say Waithe’s principal scam then began in February 2020, employing a basic pattern. First, he would disclose compromising photos to a victim through social media. Then, he’d claim the photos had been discovered online. Finally, in a supposed attempt to “help,” he would ask for more.

Read Jon Seidel’s full story on the case against Waithe here.

More news you need

  1. A 21-month-old boy remained in critical condition as of this morning after he was shot in the head in an apparent road-rage incident yesterday on Lake Shore Drive near Grant Park. Lurie Children’s Hospital, where the boy was sent after the shooting, will have an update on his condition at 3:30 p.m.
  2. More than a week after a 13-year-old boy was fatally shot by Chicago police, community members are calling for a peace talk with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Ogden District commander. “We have called on him to talk peacefully,” said Baltazar Enriquez, the president of the Little Village Community Council, about CPD Cmdr. Gilberto Calderon.
  3. Illinois reported nearly 4,000 new cases of the coronavirus today, the highest one-day total for the state since late January. Numbers are even more worrisome in Chicago, where the average positivity rate has rose 21% compared to last week.
  4. The Chicago Teachers Union wants the reopening of CPS high schools to be delayed over concerns about the city’s rising COVID-19 caseloads and variants of the virus. The union wants the tentative April 19 reopening date pushed back by a week.
  5. Harold Winston, who chaired the U.S. Chess Trust and was a supervisor in the Cook County public defender’s office, died of heart failure at 75. The Naperville resident had been a frequent college chess opponent of future “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin.

A bright one

Mercury Theater Chicago to open again

Mercury Theater Chicago will soon be back in business.

After announcing last June that the theater would permanently close due to the financial losses suffered amid COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, executive director L. Walter Stearns announced today that the theater, a longtime fixture on North Southport Avenue, will reopen under the leadership of newly appointed artistic director Christopher Chase Carter.

Carter is no stranger to the Mercury having previously collaborated on the hit productions of “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Hair.” The dancer-choreographer’s stage credits also include Lyric Opera of Chicago and Porchlight Music Theatre, among others.

The Mercury Theater Chicago, at 3745 N. Southport, will be reopening later this year.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Opened in 1920 as a silent film nickelodeon, the Mercury movie theater would undergo several retail business incarnations in the decades that followed. In 1994, it was transformed into a 300-seat live theater rental venue by veteran theater producer Michael Cullen.

It “reopened” in 2011 under Stearns’ leadership as an Equity-affiliated commercial theater house, having since produced 25 plays including four world premieres.

Read Miriam di Nunzio’s full story here.

From the press box

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson landed on the 10-day injured list today with a strained left hamstring. The team recalled Danny Mendick from its alternate training site in Schaumburg to take Anderson’s roster spot.

The Blackhawks made official their purchase of their AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, from the city of Rockford this morning in a $11.8 million deal. In addition to a lease extension that’ll keep the IceHogs in the northern Illinois city through at least 2036, the team’s arena will also get millions in renovations.

And Bulls guard Zach LaVine has watched his scoring dip since the addition of Nikola Vucevic, but he’s fine with it if it means winning. What coach Billy Donovan wants LaVine to understand is that there will be times when he’ll have to go back in takeover mode, Joe Cowley writes.

Your daily question ☕

In honor of National Beer Day, what’s your favorite local brewery? Tell us why.

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: Have you gotten your COVID-19 shot yet? If so, what’s changed for you since getting vaccinated? Here’s what some of you said…

“I’ve gathered indoors with a pod of my fully vaccinated over 65-year-old friends. I feel safer around my grandchildren. I always wear a mask around people I don’t know. I’m sleeping better and have less anxiety.” — Colleen Green

“Nothing. I’m vaccinated but still wear a mask and social distancing.” — Catherine Jo Downing-King

“I’m a registered nurse, and have had a couple of dozen patients who had COVID. I worry a lot less since getting my two Pfizer doses in February. I’m looking forward to visiting my parents, who are 78 and 82, and had both of their shots, and giving them big hugs.” — Brian Peterlinz

“My husband and I have been fully vaccinated. We’re still careful around others, but are feeling much safer. We’ve even started planning our vacation!!” — Sandy Champion

“Having lost someone dear to me (my dad, 62), I’m relieved that I’m less likely to spread this virus. I’m most relieved that my loved ones are getting the vaccine.” — Alexis Marie

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