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Ex-US Olympics gymnastics coach dies by suicide after sexual abuse and human trafficking charges

John Geddert had ties to disgraced team doctor Larry Nassar.

John Geddert (file pic).
John Geddert (file pic).
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

Updated Feb 25th 2021, 10:04 PM

FORMER US OLYMPICS women’s gymnastics coach John Geddert died by suicide on Thursday, his body found hours after prosecutors filed human trafficking and sexual assault charges against him, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

“My office has been notified that the body of John Geddert was found late this afternoon after taking his own life,” Nessel said in a statement. “This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved.”

Geddert, who owned a training facility where convicted sex offender Larry Nassar served as the gym doctor, was targeted in a 24-count complaint unveiled by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

“These allegations focus around multiple acts of verbal, physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by the defendant against multiple young women,” Nessel said in a tweet.

“I am grateful for these survivors coming forward to cooperate with our investigation and for bravely sharing their stories.”

Geddert was facing two first-degree sexual assault charges, both involving an unnamed athlete between the ages of 13 and 16 and both carrying a sentence of up to life in prison.

In addition, prosecutors alleged that Geddert’s treatment of young gymnasts constituted human trafficking “as he reportedly subjected his athletes to forced labor or services under extreme conditions that contributed to them suffering injuries and harm.

“Geddert then neglected those injuries that were reported to him by the victims and used coercion, intimidation, threats and physical force to get them to perform to the standard he expected.”

63-year-old Geddert came under scrutiny because of his close personal and professional relationships with Nassar, the former US national team doctor sentenced to life in prison over the sexual abuse of many young female gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment.

A personal coach to US gymnast Jordyn Wieber and owner of the Twistars training facility, Geddert was accused by many Nassar victims of requiring them to be treated by Nassar.  

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USA Gymnastics suspended Geddert in 2018. He immediately announced his retirement and said he had “zero knowledge” of Nassar’s crimes.

However, in three weeks of sentencing hearings during which some 200 women, girls and victims’ family members confronted Nassar by reading victim impact statements, Twistars gymnasts said they had endured physical and verbal abuse by Geddert.

Amy Preston, mother of an unidentified Nassar victim who was trained at Twistars, said in court that her daughter suffered under Geddert’s emotional abuse, which she said Nassar exploited to build trust with the young gymnast. 

“John Geddert behaved as brutally as they say, and Larry was as kind as they speak. A very toxic and lethal combination as it turns out,” Preston said. 

Geddert was also charged with making false or misleading statements to authorities investigating Nassar, lying when he was asked whether he knew the doctor was sexually abusing athletes.

Prosecutors stressed that that was the only charge against Geddert specifically linked to Nassar and that otherwise “the crimes alleged against Mr. Geddert are his own.”

He was also charged with racketeering, with prosecutors alleging he trafficked 15 athletes for financial gain.

© – AFP, 2021 

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