Former U.S. Olympics gymnastics coach John Geddert took his own life hours after he was charged with two dozen crimes in relation to his time as coach. The charges include lying to an officer, criminal sexual conduct and human trafficking. He was 63 years old.
Geddert had ties to disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced in 2018 to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting some of the country's top gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment, and his name was brought up during the Nassar's court hearings in 2018. One such example came from Lindsey Lemke, a former Michigan State gymnast who has since become a coach at the University of Arkansas.
"What a great best friend John was to Larry for giving him an entire world where he was able to abuse so easily," she said, per the Associated Press. "You two sure do have a funny meaning of friendship. You, John Geddert, also deserve to sit behind bars right next to Larry."
His charge of lying to a peace officer stems from statements he allegedly told investigators in 2016 about never hearing complaints about Nassar. According to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Geddert's offenses also included using "force, fraud and coercion" for the sake of financial benefit.
"The victims suffer from disordered eating," Nessel said, "including bulimia and anorexia, suicide attempts and attempts at 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 this behavior to this day," she continued.
Prosecutors acknowledged that the human trafficking charges came from an uncommon use of Michigan law. In Geddert's case, the money he made by profiting off of the labor he coerced the gymnasts to perform was enough for state prosecutors to include human trafficking charges.
"We think of it predominantly as affecting people of color or those without means to protect themselves ... but honestly it can happen to anyone, anywhere," Nessel said. "Young impressionable women may at times be vulnerable and open to trafficking crimes, regardless of their stature in the community or the financial well-being of their families."
Geddert told families he retired in 2018, but he was suspended from USA Gymnastics just prior to that announcement during the initial stages of the Nassar scandal.