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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

Former Northeastern track and field coach pleads guilty to tricking women in nude photo scheme

Jessica Xing
The Cabot Center, where the Northeastern track and field team practices, stands on Huntington Avenue. A former Northeastern track and field coach pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges related to a nude photo scheme.

Former Northeastern track and field coach Steve Waithe pleaded guilty in a Boston federal court Tuesday to charges involving a scheme to steal nude photos from the cell phones of female student-athletes. He was arrested and charged in April 2021.

Waithe, 30, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of wire fraud, one count of cyberstalking, one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and one count of aiding and abetting computer fraud, in an attempt to trick young women across the country into sending him nude photos, according to a press release today from the Massachusetts District U.S. Attorney’s office. 

According to prosecutors, Waithe obtained nude photos of the athletes he coached at Northeastern while employed by the university under the guise of using their phones to record their performances for review. While Waithe was supposedly taping the athletes in practices or meets, he searched through their devices for nude photos, which he would secretly email to himself.

Waithe also emailed women seeking explicit photos for fake “body development” studies, to which he received a total of over 300 nude or semi-nude photos from multiple women, according to the press release.

“Mr. Waithe’s conduct is despicable. For almost a year, he manipulated, exploited and in one case stalked young women across the [country] hiding behind a web of anonymized social media accounts and fabricated personas he engineered,” Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy said in the press release. “Mr. Waithe maliciously invaded the lives of dozens of innocent victims and inflicted real trauma. He now knows no one can hide from justice – even anonymously behind a keyboard.” 

Investigators discovered Waithe had multiple fake social media accounts and had been using aliases including “Katie Janovich” and “Kathryn Svoboda,” to contact victims. Waithe also conspired with another individual to hack into Snapchat accounts in order to access “My Eyes Only” folders which contained explicit images.

Waithe’s internet browsing history also included searches like “Can anyone trace my fake Instagram account back to me?” and “How to Hack Someone’s Snapchat the Easy Way.”

Prosecutors also said Waithe cyberstalked one victim for five months in 2020 through texts, messages via social media and hacking into her Snapchat account. He sent explicit photos of her to the victim’s boyfriend, writing, “I wanted to make you aware that someone hacked your girlfriend’s snapchat account and will leak it soon. I need your help to assure this does not happen.” 

“Waithe sent harassing and intimidating messages to the victim and her boyfriend,” the press release reads. “The messages included explicit photos that Waithe had stolen from the victim’s phone when she was on the Track and Field team at Northeastern.”  

Waithe was hired by Northeastern in October 2018 but was fired in February 2019 following allegations of sexual harassment. Before his employment at Northeastern, he coached track at Pennsylvania State University, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Tennessee and Concordia University Chicago.

“He hasn’t worked at Northeastern for years,” Renata Nyul, vice president for communications, wrote in an email to The News.

During his first semester at Northeastern, Waithe received multiple allegations of sexual harassment, which led to a Title IX investigation by the university. The conclusion of the Title IX investigation effectively ended his employment at Northeastern, according to the 2021 criminal complaint against Waithe.

According to the press release, a wire fraud charge provides a sentence of up to 20 years in prison for each count, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. A cyberstalking charge provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charges of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and aiding and abetting computer fraud each provide for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, according to the press release. 

U.S. District Judge Patti Saris is set to sentence Waithe March 6.

About the Contributors
Val O’Neill, Deputy Campus Editor
Val O’Neill is a third-year journalism major with a minor in photography, and one of the deputy campus editors. She has previously been a staff writer and staff photographer, and is excited to bring new ideas and continue her participation on The News. You can follow her on X/Twitter at @vqon717.
Jessica Xing, Photo Editor
Jessica Xing is a third-year graphic design major with a minor in journalism. She has previously served as deputy photo editor and design editor, and is excited to continue working with photographers for The News this semester.
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