Nassar-Linked Gymnastics Coach Dies by Suicide Hours After Human Trafficking Charges

Thomas Coez/AFP/Getty
Thomas Coez/AFP/Getty  

John Geddert, a former U.S. Gymnastics coach and owner of a Michigan gym where Larry Nassar worked and abused hundreds of young gymnasts, died by suicide Thursday, just hours after authorities announced he had been charged with 24 felonies, including 20 counts of human trafficking. He was 63.

While only one of Geddert's charges-lying to a police officer that he had no knowledge of the doctor's abuse-was linked to the Nassar case, according to The Detroit News, the two were longtime associates. Nassar worked out of Geddert's Michigan gym, Twistars. He was expected to turn himself in to authorities at 2:15 pm Thursday afternoon, according to the News.

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

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Three of the 10 sexual assaults Nassar was convicted of took place at Twistars, according to the Lansing State Journal, with one woman testifying that Geddert walked in while Nassar was abusing her.

Aside from his association with the disgraced doctor, Geddert had long faced allegations of abuse himself. At a Thursday press conference announcing the charges against Geddert, Nessel said gymnasts at Twistars had been subjected to years of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

Many of those allegations came up during Nassar's 2018 sentencing. As victims shared stories of Nassar's horrors, Geddert's name would follow; he was the "bad cop" to Nassar's "good cop," many said, according to ESPN.

One gymnast, Makayla Thrush, testified that Geddert had ended her career by shoving her into a training apparatus so hard that she tore her stomach muscles. Another gymnast, Bailey Lorencen, said Nassar forced her to continue practicing after she broke a bone in her back.

"You told me to kill myself not just once, but many other times," Thrush said in 2018, according to ESPN. "After you ended my career, I tried."

"[Geddert's] abuse was your fuel," Lorencen told Nassar. "You used his abuse to mask your own pathetic pleasure."

Geddert was also charged with two counts of sexual assault Thursday. According to his charging documents, both counts involved a minor above 13 but under 16 years old in January 2012.

"These charges against Mr. Geddert are for his actions and his alone," Michigan Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark said Thursday. "(The charges are about) his behavior in his gym related to his coaching."

According to the State Journal, the human trafficking charges related to Geddert forcing gymnasts to compete while injured, a move that Nessel acknowledged was unusual.

In 2019, about 200 women agreed to settle a lawsuit against Geddert and Twistars for $2.1 million, according to ESPN.

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