John Geddert

US Olympic gold medal-winning gymnastics coach shoots himself dead

A former US women's gymnastics coach with ties to disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar has died by suicide

John Geddert took his own life with a gun just hours after he was brought up on two dozen charges including sexual assault

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John Geddert took his own life with a gun 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, according to NBC 25 News.

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.

Nassar was the team's doctor and also treated injured gymnasts at Twistars, Geddert's Lansing-area gym for elite athletes.

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. Geddert insisted he had 'zero knowledge' of Nassar's crimes, although some gymnasts said he forced them to see Nassar and was physically abusive.

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.

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.

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.

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.'

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