Updated Feb 25, 2021 - Sports

Ex-USA Gymnastics coach dies by suicide after being charged with human trafficking

John Geddert
John Geddert. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

The body of John Geddert was found on Thursday, just hours after the former USA Gymnastics coach was charged with 24 counts of criminal misconduct, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

What they're 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," Nessel said in a statement.

The big picture: Geddert, who coached the 2012 U.S. women's gold-winning Olympic team, worked closely with Larry Nassar, the disgraced physician convicted of multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct and child pornography.

  • Geddert owned and operated Twistars USA Gymnastics gym near Lansing, Michigan, where Nassar also treated several gymnasts.
  • Earlier Thursday, Nessel announced the charges against Geddert, 63, which included 14 counts of human trafficking and forced labor causing injury; 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 police officer during a violent crime investigation.
  • "Geddert sold his reputation as an Olympic-level coach and promised to unsuspecting parents that he could turn his students into world-class athletes, allowing them to secure college scholarships, the attorney general's office alleges," according to a news release from Nessel's office.
  • Nessel said at a news conference that Geddert “used force, fraud and coercion against the young athletes that came to him for gymnastics training for financial benefit" to him.
  • "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," she added.
  • "Many of his victims still carry the scars from this behavior to this day."
  • Geddert had been expected to turn himself in earlier on Thursday, according to Nessel's office. Geddert's lawyer, Chris Bergstrom, did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free and confidential support for anyone in distress, in addition to prevention and crisis resources. Also available for online chat.

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