Former coach of US Olympics women's gymnastics team John Geddert was charged with 24 felonies that included physically, emotionally, and sexually abusing athletes.
Trigger warning: The story contains details of child abuse that might be distressing to some readers.
After criminal charges were filed against former Olympic gymnastics coach John Geddert for physically, emotionally, and sexually abusing athletes, he was found dead. He reportedly took his own life. He had coached the 2012 US Olympic women's gymnastics team and worked closely with disgraced Team USA doctor Larry Nassar for decades.
Geddert, who had been charged with 24 felonies in relation to abuse of young gymnasts, was found dead on February 25, said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, as reported by CNN. He could have faced up to a life sentence for his crimes.
The 63-year-old coach was charged with 24 felonies by Michigan state officials: 20 counts of human trafficking and forced labor, one count of first-degree sexual assault, one count of second-degree sexual assault, racketeering, and lying to a police officer. A lawyer from the Michigan attorney general's office said that Geddert knew that the team doctor was sexually abusing his patients. He also lied to the police about it during a 2016 investigation of Nassar. The rest of the charges against the late coach are regarding his behavior with gymnasts who he coached at gyms he owned in Michigan, according to ESPN.
The investigation against Geddert started in February 2018 after complaints were raised about his abusive coaching style during Nassar's sentencing hearing. One of the accusations against the coach is that he digitally penetrated a girl who was between the ages of 13 and 16 in January 2012.
"John Geddert used force, fraud, and coercion against the young athletes that came to him for gymnastics training for financial benefit to him," Michigan Attorney General Dana said during a Thursday afternoon news conference. "The victims suffer from disordered eating, including bulimia and anorexia, suicide attempts, and self-harm," Dana said, adding that the coach subjected his gymnasts to "excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform even while injured, extreme emotional abuse and physical abuse, including sexual assault."
Sarah Klein, who is one of Nassar's first known victims, told ESPN that the doctor started abusing her when she was 8 years old and training at Great Lakes Gymnastics.
"We now know that dozens of promising young athletes had their lives ruined by Larry Nassar at John Geddert's gym. The survivors of this horrendous abuse can now look forward to Geddert being held criminally responsible for enabling the most prolific serial sexual abuser in the history of sport," Sarah told ESPN.
Nassar used to assault young gymnasts in the late 1990s and beyond at John's Twistars USA Gymnastics Club. He used to treat the gymnasts on Monday evenings in a back room.
Lindsey Hull, formerly Lindsey Lemke, said that Nassar assaulted her hundreds of times in that room. She told ESPN that the charges against the coach were a relief and a "spark of light."
"It's another step of holding people accountable and getting justice for survivors," she said.
However, the athletes didn't get the justice they deserved. "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," Dana said in a statement, as reported by CNN.
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by Jamie Squire