Former USA Gymnastics Coach John Geddert Dead After Human Trafficking Charges

Geddert was close with former USA Gymnastics trainer and serial sexual abuser Larry Nassar.

Former USA Gymnastics coach John Geddert was found dead Thursday afternoon after he was charged with human trafficking and sexual assault.

Geddert, who was 63, worked closely with Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics trainer who sexually abused hundreds of young athletes under the guise of medical treatment for over three decades.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel confirmed in a Thursday statement that Geddert died by suicide.

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

U.S. women's gymnastics coach John Geddert celebrates during the final rotation in the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team final at the 2012 London Olympics.
U.S. women's gymnastics coach John Geddert celebrates during the final rotation in the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team final at the 2012 London Olympics.
Jamie Squire via Getty Images

Geddert was the head coach for the women’s gymnastics team during the 2011 World Championships and the 2012 London Olympics.

Geddert was facing 24 felony charges including 20 counts of human trafficking of a minor, first-degree criminal sexual assault, second-degree criminal sexual assault involving a minor, and racketeering, among others. The Detroit News reported that Geddert was supposed to turn himself in to law enforcement Thursday afternoon, but it is unclear if that happened.

The once-iconic coach had been accused of physical and verbal abuse by dozens of his former gymnasts. During Nassar’s highly publicized January 2018 sentencing hearings, several survivors delivered impact statements in which they accused Geddert of physical and emotional abuse. Many of the athletes said Geddert’s abusive coaching style allowed Nassar’s crimes to flourish. Nassar, who is serving three concurrent life sentences for child sexual abuse, is accused of serially sexually abusing over 500 athletes during his tenure as a sports physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University.

The only charge against Geddert that was linked to Nassar was lying to an officer for an alleged incident in 2016, after the first woman publicly accused Nassar of sexual abuse.

Geddert was suspended by USA Gymnastics in January 2018 over allegations of physical abuse. A few hours later, he announced his retirement. The sheriff’s office in Eaton County, Michigan, later announced that Geddert was under criminal investigation.

Geddert came up in the gymnastics world with Nassar and was known to be very close to the now-imprisoned former U.S. team doctor. Geddert owned Twistars, an elite East Lansing, Michigan, gym where Nassar got his start. It was later revealed that Nassar sexually abused dozens of athletes at Geddert’s gym.

In 2019, former gymnast Sara Teristi said Geddert saw Nassar sexually abuse her in 1988 when she was 14 years old. She said that Geddert watched as Nassar iced her nipples during what was supposed to be treatment for broken ribs. The so-called treatments became regular, Teristi said, and Geddert eventually joined. She alleged that as she lay topless in the training room, Geddert would joke about how small her 14-year-old breasts were.

Survivor Strong, a survivor-focused advocacy group founded by survivors of Nassar, released a statement Thursday in reaction to Geddert’s death.

“While it has been over three years since the first criminal charges were brought against members of USA Gymnastics’ staff, many of the survivors still confront the pain of the consequences of their actions daily,” the statement reads.

“It is important to understand that today’s news neither heals the harm, nor guarantees safety to the people left in the former coach’s destructive wake. When people refuse to practice accountability for harm they commit, the community must intervene to prevent further destruction,” the statement continues. “Today’s news serves as a reminder that while headlines and documentaries fade from the spotlight, the effects of these abusive and selfish acts will be felt by many for decades to come.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

Popular in the Community