A Former Nassar Associate Died by Suicide After Being Charged With Sex Trafficking

Ex-coach John Geddert was charged with more than a dozen counts of human trafficking and sexual assault. Hours later, he was dead.
February 25, 2021, 11:20pm
Women's All-Around champion Jordyn Wieber left is shown with her coach John Geddert during the American Cup gymnastics meet at Madison Square Garden in New York, Saturday, March 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)c

A former associate of Larry Nassar, the infamous gymnastics doctor convicted of sexually abusing young girls and accused of molesting a hundred more, died from suicide on Thursday, just hours after he was charged with more than a dozen counts of human trafficking and sexual assault.

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

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In total, Geddert was facing charges for human trafficking, criminal sexual conduct, racketeering, and lying to law enforcement authorities investigating Nassar, who was sentenced to several decades in prison in 2018, according to charging documents and a statement by Nessel’s office. Geddert was supposed to surrender himself at a sheriff’s office Thursday afternoon, but he never turned up.

Geddert previously owned the elite Twistars USA gymnastics facility in Lansing, Michigan, and led the U.S. women's gymnastics team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. 

“These allegations focus around multiple acts of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse perpetrated by the defendant against multiple victims,” Nessel told reporters when she announced the charges against Geddert.

The two charges of criminal sexual conduct are alleged to have taken place in January 2012. The alleged victim was between the ages of 13 and 16. The trafficking charges are due to the alleged forced labor of minor athletes to the point of injury.

Sarah Klein, who accused Nassar of sexual abuse, told the Detroit News that Geddert would verbally abuse gymnasts, throw things at them, deprive them of water, and during practice, drop gymnasts who’d messed up.

“We didn’t just survive Nassar; we also survived John Geddert,” she said. “John broke us, physically and psychologically, and Larry was there to put us back together. These two men developed a good cop/bad cop dynamic from the beginning that benefitted them both enormously. They enabled each other’s abuse.”

Geddert’s lawyer didn’t immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment.

“Geddert's abuse, like so much, was never a secret. EVER,” Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse, tweeted Thursday. 

“So much pain and grief for everyone,” Denhollander added after news emerged of Geddert’s death. “To the survivors, you have been heard and believed, and we stand with you. Thank you for telling the truth. What you have done matters. Please stay safe, you are loved and wanted here.”

Although Geddert and Nassar worked together closely—to the extent that Nassar treated athletes in a back room at Twistars—the charges facing Geddert were mostly about Geddert’s own behavior, according to Nessel. Only the false statement charge was connected to Nassar, who was convicted in 2018 for both child sexual abuse and possessing child pornography.