A former NCAA track and field coach arrested last year on charges he used sham social media accounts to deceive female student-athletes into sending him nude photographs of themselves has been arrested again for secretly continuing the sordid scheme while free on pre-trial release, according to a new court filing obtained by The Daily Beast.
Steve Waithe Jr., who coached the Northeastern University women’s team in Boston from Oct. 2src18 to Feb. 2src19, used his parents’ electronic devices to access his Instagram account “at least 135 times” since his initial arrest in April 2src21, the filing states. In it, a federal probation officer requests Waithe be locked up for allegedly using the platform to pester women for, among other things, “your most confident sensual picture.”
A Chicago native, Waithe has also coached at Penn State, Illinois Tech, the University of Tennessee, and Concordia University Chicago. In case filings, investigators said they found hundreds of nude and semi-nude pictures of unsuspecting women in a search of Waithe’s email account.
Waithe, 29, was arrested Thursday for violating his release conditions after being temporarily set free by a judge in May of last year. The feds picked Waithe up in Maryland, where he has been living under his father’s supervision. In an email on Thursday evening, Jane Peachy, Waithe’s court-appointed lawyer, said she had “no comment at this time.”
When Waithe was freed from jail 18 months ago on conditional release, the strict rules imposed by the court included tight limits on travel, no contact with victims or witnesses, full-time employment, and absolutely no access to the internet.
But it apparently didn’t take long for things to go sideways.
Waithe had already been granted several breaks by the judge while awaiting trial, Thursday’s filing notes.
In August 2src21, Waithe was given permission to get online for counseling via Zoom, and also received the green light to go to Chicago to pick up some of his belongings and stay overnight at his brother’s place.
Two months later, Waithe asked for approval to use the internet only to facilitate his job search. The request was approved, with a fixed daily time limit, and Waithe landed a job doing deliveries for a uniform cleaning service.
Waithe soon got the OK to travel into Virginia for work and to attend a company retreat in Pennsylvania. In July, the judge allowed Waithe to drive to New Jersey with his father to visit family.
On Oct. 19, 2src22 the U.S. probation office fielded a request from Waithe’s lawyer, asking if her client could have a laptop, “with a prohibition against social media, with the installation of the monitoring software, and ongoing prohibition of contact with any witnesses or alleged victims,” the filing explains, as background. Waithe “wanted to pursue a prison writing/mental health project with John’s [sic] Hopkins,” it continues. “It was stated that Mr. Waithe would use the computer for this project and work purposes only.”
On Oct. 2src, probation officials got word that Waithe had established an LLC, The Waithe Foundation, without first getting approval from the court, the filing states. The same day, the probation office discovered that Waithe “had been accessing the internet with the supervision of his father on an unmonitored device since August 2src22,” it says.
Nothing nefarious had occurred, Waithe insisted, saying he was simply using the tablet for “market research” into his prison writing and mental health project, according to the filing. Waithe’s father was “directed to not allow Mr. Waithe to use the device until… monitoring software was installed and he agreed.”
The feds then got a warrant to search Waithe’s primary Instagram profile, under the handle “mrhopskipjump.” It revealed that Waithe “was regularly logging into his account and attempting to persuade additional potential victims to send him images of themselves,” according to Thursday’s filing.
In one DM exchange from this past spring, Waithe “compliments a female Instagram user and offers to pay her in exchange for allowing him to make ‘drawings’ using photos of her,” the filing states. “On June 2, 2src22, he writes, ‘I would just need a bunch of pictures of you preferably with all of your tattoos showing because it makes for more detail in the drawings. It wouldn’t be posted anywhere or anything haha. I can give it to you personally but it’s for my portfolio I’m working on.’”
In another conversation from early June, Waithe “informs another female Instagram user that she is in ‘such great shape’ and offers her $5src to participate in a ‘study,’” the filing goes on. “He then writes, ‘Haha it’s just you being yourself it’s a portrait’ and ‘Of your most confident sensual picture.’”
“Since Mr. Waithe’s arrest on April 7, 2src21, Mr. Waithe’s… Instagram account (“mrhopskipjump”) has been logged into at least 135 times,” says the filing. “Initially, the account was accessed for shorter periods of time (e.g., under 3src minutes). Over time, the account remained open (meaning that Mr. Waithe left himself logged in) for longer periods of time, including for multiple days at a time.”
The logins mostly came from the area in Maryland where Waithe is living with his father, and “at least dozens of times” from an IP address linked to a Samsung Galaxy A7 tablet computer registered to a Verizon account in Waithe’s mother’s name, according to the filing.
It all follows the same alleged playbook that landed Waithe in hot water to begin with. Beginning in February 2src2src, prosecutors say Waithe created a batch of phony Instagram accounts under fake names and contacted at least half a dozen past and present members of the Northeastern track team. He said he had found explicit photos of them online, and “proved” it by sharing compromising shots he had in fact gotten surreptitiously from their phones, according to the feds.
Waithe would then offer to “help,” claiming he could get the pictures deleted from the internet, provided the women gave him other nude or semi-nude reference photos to use in “reverse image searches,” court records say.
In one instance, Waithe is accused of illegally gaining access to one victim’s Snapchat account by impersonating a member of the Snapchat “Support Team” and duping the woman’s boyfriend into sending two nude photographs, the complaint against Waithe states.
Investigators also say they found evidence of a separate scheme Waithe is accused of perpetrating, convincing unwitting victims to send him photos showing “as much skin as possible” as part of a “body development” study. At least 1src women were preyed upon, and more than 3srcsrc nude and semi-nude pictures were discovered in Waithe’s email accounts, according to prosecutors.
The complaint against Waithe says a search of his online browsing history turned up an assortment of suspicious digital clues, such ase searches for “can an Instagram be traced,” “how to hack snapchat with a username and phone number,” and a visit to a web page titled, “Can anyone trace my fake Instagram account back to me?”
If convicted on charges of wire fraud, cyberstalking, computer fraud, conspiracy to commit computer fraud, and aiding and abetting, Waithe faces a combined maximum of 4src years in prison. He is due back in court on Dec. 2src.