Ex-USA Gymnastics Coach John Geddert Found Dead After Felony Charges


Courtesy of Marc Serota/AP

Former US Olympic gymnastics coach John Geddert was found dead on Thursday, Feb. 25, after being charged with 24 crimes in connection to the abuse of young gymnasts.

Molly Mook, Staff Writer

Former US Olympic gymnastics coach John Geddert was found dead on Thursday, Feb. 25, after being charged with 24 crimes in connection to the abuse of young gymnasts.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel confirmed that he took his own life, and she called his death “a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved.”

Geddert, 63, was scheduled to turn himself in and be arraigned at 2:15 p.m. in Eaton County, Michigan, on the day of his death. Michigan State Police confirmed that his body was found at an interstate highway rest stop at 3:25 p.m. ET. 

“We had no indication that Geddert intended to flee or hurt himself or others,” said Nessel’s spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney. “We had been in contact with his attorney and were assured of his cooperation.”

According to ESPN, Michigan state officials had charged Geddert earlier that day with 24 felonies, including “20 counts of human trafficking and forced labor, one count of first-degree sexual assault, one count of second-degree sexual assault, racketeering and lying to a police officer.”

Geddert had ties to the disgraced US women’s team doctor, Larry Nassar, who is currently serving time in prison for child pornography and molesting young female gymnasts. He will effectively be locked away for life. 

Geddert was one of Nassar’s longtime and main enablers. Despite Nassar being fired by USA Gymnastics in 2015, Geddert continued to voice his support for him and stated that Nassar is “an extremely professional physician” and “goes above and beyond” for his patients. 

Geddert previously had his own gymnastics club called Twistars, which was located in Dimondale, Michigan. It has since been sold and renamed, but it was one of the sites that Nassar admitted to sexually assaulting young female gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment. 

Law enforcement began investigating Geddert in February 2018 when concerns were brought up about his abusive coaching style during Nassar’s hearing. Though Geddert and Nassar worked side by side for more than 25 years, the charges just brought against him are for his own actions and do not have much to do with Nassar. Most of the charges are for his behavior with gymnasts that he coached. 

 Geddert was involved with verbal, physical and sexual abuse against multiple gymnasts under his care, according to a press release from Nessel’s office. 

“It is alleged that John Geddert used force, fraud, and coercion against the young athletes that came to him for gymnastics training, for financial benefit to him,” Nessel said. “The victims suffer from disordered eating. . . suicide attempts and self-harm, excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform when injured,” and other extreme abuse of many kinds. 

He also used his status and reputation as an Olympic-level coach to promise parents that he could transform their daughters into elite level gymnasts. 

Geddert became known on the national stage around 2000 and was named as the national team coach for the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team in 2012. Because of this, he was able to travel around the world with young, elite athletes. Nassar also travelled with the gymnasts, and many have said that Nassar abused them on these international trips.

Many of the women said that Geddert’s strict and abusive coaching pushed them to go to Nassar and his more comforting and thoughtful personality. This led him to violate the gymnasts’ trust and sexually assault them.

In 2011, Former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney and Geddert were in a car together during the Tokyo World Championships, and she described that Nassar had touched her inappropriately during treatment the night before. The other passengers in the car recount that Geddert did not react to her comments. This is just one known example of Geddert enabling Nassar’s abuse.

USA Gymnastics ultimately suspended Geddert in January 2018 due to the influx of complaints about his abusive coaching from former gymnasts. Just a few days after the suspension from USAG, Geddert announced his retirement from gymnastics coaching.

USA Gymnastics as an organization released a statement in regards to Geddert’s sentencing and suicide and said, “With the news of his death by suicide, we share the feelings of shock, and our thoughts are with the gymnastics community as they grapple with the complex emotions of today’s event.”

Some of his former gymnasts have also shared their reactions to his suicide. “Geddert was a narcissistic abuser. His suicide is an admission of guilt that the entire world can now see,” said Sarah Klein, who was formerly coached and abused by Geddert.