A former US women’s gymnastics coach with ties to disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar who was charged in Michigan on Thursday with two dozen crimes has died by suicide.
John Geddert died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound just hours after he was brought up on two dozen charges including sexual assault, human trafficking and running a criminal enterprise, WLNS-TV reported.
Geddert’s suicide was confirmed by the office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
‘My office has been notified that the body of John Geddert was found late this afternoon after taking his own life,’ Nessel wrote in a statement.
‘This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved.’
Michigan State Police tweeted that Geddert’s body was located by troopers at the rest area on EB I-96 in Clinton County at 3.24pm.
Police said no further details are available at this time and that an investigation into Geddert’s death is ongoing.
DailyMail.com left a message on Thursday with Geddert’s Lansing-based attorney, Chris Bergstrom.
An official in Nessel’s office said that Geddert agreed to surrender to authorities at Eaton County Sheriff’s Office in Delta Township on Thursday before 2:15pm but he never showed up. His arraignment was scheduled at Eaton County District Court before Judge Julie O’Neill.
Geddert was head coach of the 2012 US women’s Olympic gymnastics team, which won a gold medal.
John Geddert (left), 63, a former United States Olympics gymnastics coach with ties to disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar (right), was charged by authorities in Michigan on Thursday with two dozen crimes, including sexual assault, human trafficking and running a criminal enterprise. Hours after the charges were filed, Geddert took his own life
Geddert was head coach of the 2012 US women’s Olympic gymnastics team, which won a gold medal. He is seen above celebrating the American team’s victory during the London Summer Games in 2012
Nassar was the team’s doctor and also treated injured gymnasts at Twistars, Geddert’s Lansing-area gym for elite athletes.
It is alleged that Nassar abused several gymnasts at Twistars.
Geddert, 63, is accused of injuring people for years through forced labor and recruiting minors for forced labor, according to documents filed in an Eaton County court, near Lansing.
He also was charged with molesting a teen with his hands in 2012.
Authorities said Geddert also lied to investigators in 2016 when he said he had never heard anyone complain about Nassar.
State prosecutors charged Geddert with 14 counts of human trafficking; six counts of human trafficking of a minor for forced labor; one count of continuing criminal enterprise; one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct; one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct; and one count of lying to a peace officer during a violent crime investigation, a four-year felony.
The two counts related to sexual conduct were brought after Geddert allegedly engaged in ‘sexual penetration’ of a girl under 16 in January 2012, according to the complaint.
Geddert was the former owner of Twistars Gymnastics (gym pictured). There is no suggestion any of the girls in this picture were victims of Geddert
Geddert formerly owned and coached at Twistars Gymnastics club (gym pictured) in Dimondale, where hundreds of women say Nassar sexually abused them. There is no suggestion any of the girls in this picture were victims either men
In 2012, he coached the US women’s gymnastics team to a gold medal. That squad included the ‘Fierce Five,’ which included Aly Raisman (left, in black), Gabby Douglas (second from left), McKayla Maroney (center), Kyla Ross (second from right), and Jordyn Wieber (right)
‘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, including bulimia and anorexia, suicide attempts and self-harm, excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform even when injured, extreme emotional abuse and physical abuse, including sexual assault.
‘Many of these victims still carry these scars from his behavior to this day.’
Had he lived to face the charges in court, Geddert likely would have faced a maximum prison sentence of life if convicted.
Nessel scheduled an afternoon news conference. A message seeking comment was left with Geddert’s attorney.
Geddert insisted he had ‘zero knowledge’ of Nassar’s crimes, although some gymnasts said he forced them to see Nassar and was physically abusive.
Athletes are said to have attempted suicide, harmed themselves and suffered from eating disorders, according to Nessel.
One woman who spoke to WLNS about Geddert in 2018 but wished to remain anonymous described him as the ‘boss, the enforcer, the screamer, the thrower, the perfectionist, the one from whom we desperately sought approval, or even just some small sign that he actually cared for us and not just for winning’.
Gymnast Lindsey Lemke described one incident to the station, saying: ‘While a gymnast would be in the spotting belt over a set of uneven bars, they would often get dropped from mid air, 15 feet up, if they made a mistake.
‘Geddert would let go of the ropes that controlled the belt and therefore the gymnast.’
Lemke continued: ‘He would take girls by the shoulders, squeeze hard enough to leave marks, shake them and yell directly into their face.
‘There was specifically one time where he picked up the vault hand mat and hit me with it because I couldn’t get my vault right that day and this was already after I had crashed into the vault hard enough to bruise and bleed.’
THE 24 CHARGES FACED BY JOHN GEDDERT BEFORE HIS SUICIDE
- 14 counts of human trafficking, forced labor causing injury, a 15-year felony;
- Six counts of human trafficking of a minor for forced labor, a 20-year felony;
- One count of continuing criminal enterprise, a 20-year felony;
- One count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a life offense felony;
- One count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony;
- One count of lying to a peace officer during a violent crime investigation, a four-year felony
In July 2019, Sara Teristi, who met Nassar as a young teen in Michigan in late 1988, came forward in a bombshell TIME excerpt from Abigail Pesta’s book The Girls: An All-American Town, a Predatory Doctor, and the Untold Story of the Gymnasts Who Brought Him Down, implicating Geddert.
Teristi, who is now in her 40s, said that when she was 16 and suffering from a hairline fracture to her tailbone, Nassar penetrated her anally with his hands under the guise of performing a medical procedure.
Teristi says Geddert saw some of the abuse but failed to act, instead maintaining a close personal and professional relationship with the soft-spoken doctor over several decades.
In one instance, according to Teristi, Geddert was present in the medical room while Nassar applied an ice pack to the bare chest of the then-14-year-old gymnast and began playing with her nipples.
In July 2019, Sara Teristi, who met Nassar as a young teen in Michigan in late 1988, came forward in a bombshell TIME excerpt from Abigail Pesta’s book The Girls: An All-American Town, a Predatory Doctor, and the Untold Story of the Gymnasts Who Brought Him Down, implicating Geddert
Teristi says Geddert saw some of the abuse that took place when she was in her teens but failed to act, instead maintaining a close personal and professional relationship with the soft-spoken doctor over several decades
Rather than putting a halt to the abuse, Geddert is said to have made jokes about the size of the young girl’s chest and allowed the sexual assault to continue freely.
‘They would stand there and have a conversation right in front of me,’ she said.
‘John [Geddert] would joke about how small my “t***” were. He said if I was lucky, they would get bigger.’
Now a mother-of-two, she believes Geddert helped engineer a culture of fear that allowed Nassar’s sexual abuse to continue unabashed.
‘Your body didn’t belong to you,’ she says. ‘You didn’t get to make decisions about it.’
And in another extreme instance, she claims Geddert himself straddled her ‘in a sexual way’ after she returned from injury and landed on her hands and knees.
‘He was sitting on my back, riding me in a sexual way,’ she claimed. ‘He said, “Ooh, baby, you like it like that!”‘
Nassar, who was a doctor at Michigan State University, has been sentenced to decades in prison for sexually assaulting gymnasts at the school and elsewhere as well as possessing child pornography.
The gymnastic coach was investigated twice by Michigan State Police – once in 2011 and again in 2013. In 2011, he was said to have gotten into an argument with an employee while he was investigated for assaulting a gymnast in 2013. The image above shows police raising Geddert’s home in Grand Ledge, Michigan in January 2020
During Nassar’s sentencing, a woman said Geddert was aware in the late 1990s that Nassar had performed an ‘inappropriate procedure’ on her when she was 16.
A prosecutor read that accuser’s anonymous statement in court.
The gymnastic coach was investigated twice by Michigan State Police – once in 2011 and again in 2013. In 2011, he was said to have gotten into an argument with an employee while he was investigated for assaulting a gymnast in 2013.
During the Nassar scandal, Geddert was suspended by Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics in January 2018 and announced his retirement the following day. He has been under investigation since.
On his LinkedIn page, Geddert described himself as the ‘most decorated women’s gymnastics coach in Michigan gymnastics history.’ He said his Twistars teams had won 130 club championships.
In 2012, he coached the US women’s gymnastics team to a gold medal in the London Summer Games.
That squad included the ‘Fierce Five’ – a group of gymnasts comprised of Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber which captured the nation’s hearts.
But Geddert was often described in unflattering ways when Nassar’s victims spoke during court hearings in 2018.
‘What a great best friend John was to Larry for giving him an entire world where he was able to abuse so easily,’ gymnast Lindsey Lemke said.
‘You two sure do have a funny meaning of friendship. You, John Geddert, also deserve to sit behind bars right next to Larry.’
Geddert’s Twistars was sued by more than 140 women and girls who alleged that he failed to protect them from Nassar.
LARRY NASSAR TIMELINE: RISE AND FALL OF USA GYMNASTICS PEDOPHILE DOCTOR
1986: Larry Nassar joins USA Gymnastics as an athletic trainer for the national team a year after graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in kinesiology.
1993: Nassar completes his master’s program and is awarded an osteopathic medical degree from Michigan State University
1994: Nassar begins sexually abusing Jamie Dantzscher according to a 2016 lawsuit filed by the gymnast, who is the first member of a national team to publicly accuse Nassar. Dantzscher claims that the abuse lasted up until the Sydney Games in 2000, where the team won Bronze in the all-around event.
1996: Nassar is promoted by USA Gymnastics, and appointed to the role of national medical coordinator. In that capacity he travels to his first Olympic Games in Atlanta, where the women’s team wins Gold.
Nassar begins working at the newly opened Twistars USA Gymnastics Club thanks to his close relationship with owners John and Kathryn Geddert.
1997: In the wake of the Olympics, Nassar accepts two team physician positions, one at Holt High School and one at Michigan State.
A parent alerts John Geddert to Nassar’s questionable techniques according to a 2017 lawsuit, but Geddert does not alert authorities or any of Nassar’s employers to these concerns.
1998: Nassar begins to sexually abuse the daughter of a family friend by penetrating her vagina with his fingers every other week. This lasts for five years says the girl in court filings, beginning when she is just 6.
A student at Michigan State alerts trainers and coaches in the athletic department to questionable practices being carried out by Nassar, but no action is taken according to a court complaint.
2000: A second student reached out to members of the athletic department to voice their concern about Nassar but nothing is done according to a 2017 lawsuit.
Nassar travels to Sydney with the US Olympic team.
Nassar begins to sexually abuse Rachael Denhollander, who tells police that she was just 15 when the doctor began to molest her while claiming to be treating her lower back pain. Fifteen years later, she is the first woman to file a criminal complaint.
2004: One of Nassar’s victims, who he has now confessed to molesting, tells her parents that the doctor has been abusing her while she receives treatments. They do not report this to authorities.
Nassar travels to Athens with the national team for the Olympics.
Nassar receives images of child pornography online according to federal charging documents.
2008: Nassar attends the Beijing Olympics with the national team.
2010: Nassar begins treating two-time Olympian Aly Raisman, who reveals in her memoir Fierce that she was sexually abused by the doctor for the final five years of his career.
2011: Nassar gives McKayla Maroney a sleeping pill and she awakes to find herself being sexually assaulted by him in a Tokyo hotel rooms she claims in a public statement.
2012: Nassar sexually assaults Maroney while she is in London at the Olympic Games. Maroney says she was assaulted the night before the team wins Gold in the all around and the night before she won Silver on vault.
2014: Nassar is cleared of any wrongdoing by Michigan State after an investigation into claims that he sexually assaulted a woman while she received treatment.
Nassar announced on Facebook he will be stepping down as national medical coordinator but continue to work with the women’s team through the 2016 Rio Games.
2015: A conversation between Raisman and Maggie Nichols about Nassar’s techniques is overheard by a coach at the national training facility, who alerts USA Gymnastics.
Nassar suddenly announced his retirement from USA Gymnastics in a post on Facebook.
SEPTEMBER 2016: Michigan State fires Nassar one years after the first criminal complaint is filed against the doctor by Hollander.
OCTOBER 2016: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette declares that his office will be looking into allegations made against Nassar and is working with Michigan State.
NOVEMBER 2016: Nassar is officially charged with three counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under 13 following the attorney general office’s initial investigation. He enters a plea of not guilty and is released after posting $1 million bail.
DECEMBER 2016: Nassar is indicted on federal charges after over 37,000 images and videos of child pornography are found on his hard drives. He is denied bond.
JANUARY 2017: Nassar, MSU, USA Gymnastics and Twistars Gymnastics club are sued by 18 victims who allege that they endured sexual assault, battery, molestation and harassment between 1996 and 2016 while nothing was done to help them despite other victims speaking out.
FEBRUARY 2017: Nassar is ordered to stand trial in Ingham County on the three charges filed by the district attorney’s office after a judge rules there is enough evidence to proceed in the case.
JUNE 2017: An Ingham County judge rules that there is also enough evidence for Nassar to stand trial on 12 criminal counts of first–degree sexual conduct.
JULY 2017: Nassar enters a guilty plea to three child pornography charges.
OCTOBER 2017: Maroney reveals she is one of Nassar’s victims.
NOVEMBER 2017: Raisman reveals she is one of Nassar’s victims. Nassar enters a guilty plea to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Ingham County Circuit Court.
DECEMBER 2017: Gabby Douglas reveals she is one of Nassar’s victims. Nassar is sentenced to 60 years in prison on federal charges, a sentence he is currently appealing.
JANUARY 2018: Simone Biles reveals she is one of Nassar’s victims.