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Former Massachusetts Track and Field Coach Sentenced for Cybercrime, Cyberstalking and Sextortion

Sextortion is a serious sex crime crime involving the abuse of explicit images. It is often carried out in connection with cyber-crimes involving electronic devices. Because of this, it is a crime that may involve multiple serious charges. A sextortion defense will likely be complex and anyone charged with such a crime should retain an experienced sex crimes and cyber-crimes defense attorney immediately.

Sextortion and Cyberstalking in the News

Steve Waithe, a former college track and field coach was sentenced to five years in prison for orchestrating a scheme to fraudulently obtain explicit photos from over 100 women across the United States. Waithe, who previously worked at institutions such as Northeastern University and Penn State University, targeted at least 128 women, cyberstalking one female student-athlete and employing deceptive tactics to gain unauthorized access to victims’ Snapchat accounts. Waithe pleaded guilty to 12 counts of wire fraud, cyberstalking, conspiracy to commit computer fraud, and computer fraud and aiding and abetting. The court sentenced him to prison followed by three years of supervised release with strict conditions, including a prohibition from roles involving women or girls and monitored internet usage.

The FBI has seen a rise in sextortion, a crime associated with coercing teens, children and young adults to share sexually explicit images to prevent sexually explicit images from being revealed. Sextortion can range between serious sex crimes such as enticing a minor to share sexually explicit images, to serious cybercrimes in connection with obtaining the images, such as wire fraud, computer fraud and computer hacking.

Waithe’s conduct included requesting cell phones of female athletes under the pretext of filming their form, creating sham social media accounts, and fabricating personas for a fake research study to obtain nude or semi-nude photos. The investigation revealed Waithe’s extensive online deception, including hacking into accounts, distributing stolen images on websites, and engaging in cyberstalking.

Is Cyberstalking a Federal Crime?

Many sex crimes involving electronic communication devices may also be federal crimes. Cyberstalking may be a felony, a misdemeanor or a federal crime. Cyberstalking is a federal crime under the Violence Against Women Act, and it is punishable by 5 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. Computer fraud and wire fraud are federal crimes. Computer fraud can result in up to 5 years in federal prison and 10 years for a second offense. Wire fraud is a serious federal crime that can incur sentences of up to 20 years and fines of up to 250,000.

If you have been accused of serious sex crimes related to electronic communications, like sextortion or cyber stalking, the attorneys at Dhar Law LLP can assist you to fight these charges. Members of our defense team have been trained by the Center for Cybercrime Investigations and we are experienced in the defense of cyber-crimes and crimes involving images and file sharing. Please contact our experienced team of Boston sextortion defense attorneys at 617-880-6155 to learn more.


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