Former U.S. gymnastics coach dies by suicide after arrest for alleged sex crimes in Michigan

Police found the body of a former U.S. gymnastics coach, who has ties to disgraced doctor Larry Nassar, hours after he was criminally charged in Michigan on Thursday.

John Geddert died by suicide and was discovered in Grand Ledge, Michigan, according to Kelly Rossman-McKinney, a spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Geddert’s body was found by state police troopers in a rest area off eastbound Interstate 96 at 3:24 p.m. EST.

The “investigation is ongoing; no further details will be released at this time,” according to a police statement.

Geddert’s lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment.

Image: John Geddert (Marc Serota / AP file)

Geddert had agreed to surrender at a sheriff’s office on Thursday before a 2:15 p.m. arraignment but he never showed up, Rossman-McKinney said.

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

The former coach, wholed the U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 Olympic games in London, was charged with 20 counts of human trafficking and forced labor resulting in injury, one count of racketeering, two counts of criminal sexual conduct and one count of lying to police, according to a Michigan state criminal complaint filed in Eaton County.

In the two criminal sexual conduct counts, Geddert, 63, was accused of “sexual penetration” of a girl under 16 in January 2012, according to the complaint.

“John Geddert used force, fraud and coercion against the young athletes that came to him for gymnastics training for financial benefit to him,” Nessel told reporters hours before Geddert’s body was found.

“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.”

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Several gymnasts publicly accused Nassar of sexually abusing them at Geddert’s Twistars gym in Dimondale, Michigan.

Nassar, who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing 10 minors in a Michigan court in January 2018, is serving up to 175 years in prison and is expected to be behind bars for the rest of his life.

The charge of lying to police was tied to Geddert’s alleged knowledge of Nassar’s crimes.

“Mr. Geddert knew that Nassar was sexual abusing these patients and that he failed to take action,” Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark said.

“And that when he was asked about it by police officers during the 2016 investigation into Nassar, he lied about that.”

Geddert’s alleged victims have not been identified.

The 2012 women’s gymnastic squad was led by the “Fierce Five” of Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney, who won gold for the team all-around.

Douglas won gold for the individual all-around while Maroney scored silver in the vault and Raisman bronze on the balance beam and gold for the floor exercise.

Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse, reacted to the news of Geddert’s death by addressing survivors on Twitter. The former gymnast urged those who have shared their stories of abuse to “be safe” and know that they are loved.

“To the survivors, you have been heard and believed, and we stand with you,” Denhollander said. “Thank you for telling the truth. What you have done matters.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.



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