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Gymnastics

Gymnastics Coach John Geddert Dies By Suicide Hours After He Is Criminally Charged

A photo of former national gymnastics team coach John Geddert.
Screenshot via John Geddert/YouTube

Former Olympic gymnastics coach John Geddert died by suicide on Thursday, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office confirmed. Earlier in the day, he had been charged with 20 counts of human trafficking with forced labor, one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of racketeering, and one count of lying to a law enforcement officer during the investigation of a violent crime.

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

The criminal charges were the result of multiple former gymnasts speaking out during the 2018 sentencing of disgraced former national team doctor Larry Nassar, telling the court that Geddert physically and emotionally abused them at Geddert’s former club, Twistars. It was this abuse, the gymnasts said, that allowed Nassar to act like the “good cop” and gain their trust, which Nassar then used to sexually abuse them under the guise of medical treatment. While Nassar became a trusted physician to elite athletes, Geddert rose through the ranks of gymnastics coaches, eventually coaching the women’s national team for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Nassar currently is serving essentially a life sentence in prison for his abuse.

Investigators with the attorney general’s office ultimately confirmed what the former gymnasts said. In a press release, the office said: “Geddert’s treatment of young gymnasts constitutes 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.”

The charge of lying to a law enforcement officer stemmed from the Nassar investigation, during which Geddert intentionally gave wrong information to a Michigan State University police officer, the attorney general’s office said in charging documents. The charging documents also said that Geddert digitally penetrated a young girl between the ages of 13 and 16, which resulted in the criminal sexual conduct charges.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available for people in crisis or those looking to help someone else at 1-800-273-8255. The Crisis Text Line is a texting service for emotional crisis support available by texting HELLO to 741741.