Former USA Gymnastics coach John Geddert, who was connected with USA Gymnastics doctor and convicted sexual abuser Larry Nassar and faced 24 counts of human trafficking, sexual assault, racketeering and lying to police, died by suicide on February 25, as first reported by USA Today. He was 63.
Geddert, who coached the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team — gold medal superstars Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Jordyn Wieber and Kyla Ross — was confirmed dead by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. Geddert was charged with the crimes Thursday morning and had been expected to turn himself in before his body was found at an Interstate 96 rest area just before 3:30 p.m., according to USA Today.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a statement saying, “My office has been notified that the body of John Geddert was found late this afternoon after taking his own life. This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved.” TMZ reported that “Geddert died from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
While Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for his decades of abuse against young gymnasts, Geddert, who supported Nassar long after he was first fired by USA Gymnastics in 2015, was suspended by USA Gymnastics himself in 2018, according to CNN. Geddert owned Twistars Gymnastics Club in Michigan, a top training location where Nassar admitted he sexually abused female athletes. Nassar was convicted in 2018 following the testimony of more than 150 female athletes and sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison, CNN reported at the time.
Geddert is survived by his wife, Kathryn Geddert, and their three children, according to The Sun. Twistars announced in February on Facebook that the training facility had been sold, The Detroit News reported.
Numerous Gymnasts Came Forward to Report Abuse Claims Against Geddert
Ken Loren, whose daughter Bailey Lorencen trained at Twistars, told CNN of the disgraced coach in 2018, “John needs to go down as hard as Larry did. Sometimes I think he was worse.” The former Olympic coach was accused of ignoring gymnasts’ injuries, verbal assault and physical abuse.
“John was always scary, even when he wasn’t my coach yet,” Lorencen told CNN. “He would be throwing water bottles at the girls in the gym and get in their face and scream at them.”
Lorencen wasn’t alone. One gymnast claimed Geddert made her train on a broken leg when she was 13 years old while another former gymnast said her career prematurely came to halt at age 17 as a result of his abuse.
Rita Wieber, the mother of USA Gymnastic champion Jordyn Wieber, told WILX in 2020, “As a mother over the years dealing with John as a coach I was concerned about many things. I was encouraged to think that there is still a chance justice is going to be served.”
Before Geddert died by suicide, he was facing “14 counts of human trafficking-forced labor resulting in injury, six counts of human trafficking of a minor for forced labor, and one count each of continuing criminal enterprise, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, second-degree criminal sexual conduct and lying to a peace officer during a violent crime investigation,” CNN reported.
Geddert Referred to Nassar as ‘One of the Most Respected Gymnastics Professionals’
Before Geddert was forced to sell Twistars to his wife in 2018, he only had high praise for Nassar, who had 156 survivors of his abuse testify in open court. During his sentencing, victims who spoke out included Raisman, Weiber, Kyle Stephens and Maggie Nichols.
“He’s an extremely professional physician,” Geddert told the Indianapolis Star. “Very competent and goes above and beyond the call of duty in treating athletes. He’s probably one of the most respected gymnastics professionals I’ve ever had to deal with.”
The respect went both ways between the two men. David Mittleman, who represented 112 Nassar survivors in court, told WILX, “He [John Geddert] was a bully and the girls were afraid of him. Nassar would go to them and say – ‘You know John just wants the best for you.'” Nassar remains incarcerated in Orlando, Florida.
Mittleman also detailed some of the abuse claims against Geddert:
Knocking some of the athletes off of the equipment that they participate on intentionally, some have had their foot stomped on, water bottles thrown at them. One girl that talked to me talked about him dragging her, literally picking her up and forcing her to participate. By the time she got to the doctor shortly after, she was told that she was lucky she wasn’t paralyzed.