Track coach from Chicago charged with duping Boston student athletes into sharing nude pics
Seven months after Steve Waithe left the school in Boston following reports of sexual harassment, he landed a job as an assistant track and field coach at Concordia University.
Federal authorities on Wednesday 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.
Now a local university where Steve Waithe once served as an assistant coach says it’s reaching out to student athletes to let them know about “the opportunity to cooperate with the federal investigation.”
Prosecutors say they discovered more than 300 nude and semi-nude images of victims in the email accounts of 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 Chicago 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. Authorities said the FBI arrested Waithe in Chicago around 6:45 a.m. Wednesday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth Jantz set a Friday hearing to determine whether Waithe should remain in federal custody. She did so despite an objection from Waithe’s defense attorney, who noted that Waithe has no criminal history.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary McClelland told the judge that agents had also executed a search warrant at Waithe’s home.
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, Waithe landed a job as an assistant track and field coach at Concordia. He worked there “for less than four months,” according to a statement from Concordia.
“Concordia-Chicago is not currently aware of and has not received any reports of misconduct during his employment with the university,” the statement read, adding that the school was reaching out to the students Waithe coached.
Jake DiGregorio, a spokesman for the Illinois Institute of Technology, said Waithe worked as a temporary assistant coach at that school from February 2017 until June 2017.
“The university was not aware of this case until today’s announcement,” DiGregorio wrote in an email.
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.
For example, a onetime member of the Northeastern track and field team received an Instagram message in February 2020 from an account the feds connected to Waithe. The feds say Waithe used the name “Katie Janovich” and claimed to have found compromising photos of the victim online. Then, prosecutors said he sent several nude or semi-nude photos of the victim and other team members and wrote “Sorry[,] I created this … profile to help out don’t wanna be part of the drama.”
The victim agreed to let “Katie” help identify photos of her friends or teammates online, but Waithe replied, “Not until you send me pictures of you,” according to the complaint.
Waithe allegedly added, “I’ll send you all the personal ones if you send me you[;] that’s the only way[.] I also saw another girl that you might know too. But only if you send yours.”
Waithe allegedly sent at least 18 nude or semi-nude photos of the victim and others through Instagram, the feds alleged, adding that the victim did not send him additional photos.
Waithe allegedly told another victim he would use the photos he received to help with a reverse image search. An additional victim — the one who said that Waithe had possession of her phone on multiple occasions for extended periods of time — told the feds that nude images she received had been saved on her phone when Waithe was her coach.
Prosecutors alleged that Waithe’s internet search and browsing history included a visit to a website titled, “Can anyone trace my fake Instagram account back to me?”
The complaint against Waithe also alleges that he cyberstalked a onetime member of the Northeastern track and field team from June until October 2020. It also alleges he concocted another scheme to convince victims to send photos to him in a “uniform or bathing suit to show as much skin as possible” under the pretense of an “athlete research” or “body development” study.