John Geddert

John Geddert
Born(1957-12-21)December 21, 1957
Michigan, U.S.
DiedFebruary 25, 2021(2021-02-25) (aged 63)
Cause of deathSuicide by gunshot
EducationAlpena High School
(1974–76)
Alma materCentral Michigan University
(Class of 1980)
Years active1976–2018
Known forCoach of Jordyn Wieber
Ties to Larry Nassar and the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal
Spouse(s)Kathryn Geddert
Children3
Notable gymnasts
Thema Williams
Jordyn Wieber

John Gerald Geddert (December 21, 1957 – February 25, 2021) was an American artistic gymnastics coach, who was a head coach of the gold-medal 2012 U.S. women's Olympic team and regular coach of team member Jordyn Wieber.[1] He retired when suspended by USA Gymnastics in 2018 after being implicated in the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal centered on his long-time associate Larry Nassar.[2] Geddert died by suicide in 2021, shortly after being charged with 24 criminal charges, including 20 counts of human trafficking of a minor, one count each of first-degree criminal sexual assault, second-degree criminal sexual assault involving a minor, and lying to a peace officer.[3]

Gymnastics clubs

From 1984, Geddert was head coach at Great Lakes Gymnastics Club in Lansing, Michigan, where he first worked with Larry Nassar.[4] In 1988, Geddert was named Male Coach of the Year for the United States Gymnastic Federation in Michigan.[5] He won the Federation's Regional Coach of the Year award in 1990 and 1991.[6] He was later fired from Great Lakes Gymnastics Club.[7] In 1996, Geddert founded the Twistars USA Gymnastics Club in Dimondale.[8] The club has a back room, where Nassar regularly treated and sexually molested young female athletes.[9] In 2018, Geddert handed over ownership and management of the gym to his wife, Kathryn, in the wake of the Nassar sex abuse scandal.[10]

Coaching style

Many former gymnasts have described Geddert's coaching style as intense, strict, and abusive. Several former gymnasts have recounted that Geddert repeatedly told them to kill themselves.[11][12] He was known to throw items in his gym when angered. On one occasion, Geddert shoved a gymnast forcefully enough for her to sustain a black eye, ruptured lymph nodes in her neck, and torn muscles in her stomach.[12] In 2013, Geddert was under criminal investigation for his abusive treatment of gymnasts. The Eaton County Prosecutor's office stated there was enough evidence to charge Geddert, but allowed Geddert to seek counseling instead.[12] In December 2013, a former employee of Geddert contacted USA Gymnastics to inform them of Geddert's abuse of his athletes. USA Gymnastics stated they addressed the letter writer's concerns with Geddert, though the specific actions by USA Gymnastics were never made public.[13] Geddert retired from coaching on January 23, 2018, one day after USA Gymnastics announced that he was suspended pending an investigation into his alleged abuse.[2]

Involvement in U.S. sexual abuse scandal

Geddert's long-time association with Larry Nassar, who was sued for sexually assaulting at least 150 women and girls, caused legal troubles for Geddert.[14] Geddert and Nassar's close personal and professional relationships have led some to suspect that Geddert was aware of Nassar's abuse but did nothing about it. Many former gymnasts and parents have asserted that the intense and abusive environment Geddert created in his gym allowed for Nassar, a regular volunteer at Geddert's gym, to easily groom gymnasts and gain their trust. Several gymnasts have admitted that Geddert created such a hostile environment that they were unable to approach Geddert about the abuse.[13] At least one former gymnast testified that Geddert walked in on a supposed medical session while Nassar was penetrating her with his fingers. The witness stated that Geddert joked about her injury and left the room.[15]

Indictment and death

On February 25, 2021, Geddert was charged with 24 felony crimes: 14 counts of human trafficking-forced labor resulting in injury, six counts of human trafficking of a minor for forced labor, and one count each of continuing criminal enterprise, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and lying to a peace officer during a violent crime investigation.[16] Hours after being indicted, Geddert committed suicide by gunshot at a rest area off Interstate 96 in Grand Ledge, Michigan.[17][18][19][20]

References

  1. ^ "John Geddert Biography" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 12, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Turner, Amanda (January 22, 2018). "USAG Suspends Coach Geddert After Abuse Allegations". International Gymnast Magazine Online. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  3. ^ LeBlanc, Beth; Kozlowski, Kim (February 25, 2021). "Ex-U.S. Olympics gymnastics coach with ties to Nassar kills himself after being charged". The Detroit News.
  4. ^ Barr, John (April 25, 2019). "Gymnastics club settles Nassar suit for $2.1M". ESPN.com. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  5. ^ "Geddert, Klayges named top male, female coaches". Lansing State Journal. October 25, 1988. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  6. ^ "Gymnast wins regional honor". Lansing State Journal. July 31, 1991. p. 18. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  7. ^ Rivers, Jeff (June 26, 1996). "Changes force Teft to shift training sites". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  8. ^ Lacy, Eric (February 9, 2018). "Accomplished, controversial coach: A timeline of John Geddert's career in gymnastics". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  9. ^ "Police search home, gym of coach John Geddert, who worked with Larry Nassar". ESPN.co.uk. Associated Press. January 22, 2020. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  10. ^ Banta, Megan (January 31, 2020). "Twistars, Gedderts would pay $2.1 million on top of USA Gymnastics settlement with Nassar survivors". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  11. ^ Murphy, Dan (January 24, 2018). "Ex-gymnast: Geddert 'deserves to be in jail'". ESPN. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  12. ^ a b c "Survivors accuse Geddert of abuse". WILX. January 18, 2018. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  13. ^ a b Ilitch, Alexandra (January 17, 2018). "Owner of popular Twistars Gymnastics Club faces abuse allegations". WLNS. Archived from the original on January 17, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  14. ^ Barr, John; Murphy, Dan (January 16, 2018). "OTL: Michigan State among those that enabled serial sex abuser". ESPN. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  15. ^ Leonard, Tod (January 16, 2018). "Hot reads: Gymnastics doctor faces the victims he sexually abused". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  16. ^ Maese, Rick; Hobson, Will. "Ex-Olympic gymnastics coach dies by suicide hours after being charged with human trafficking, sex crimes". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  17. ^ Kozlowski, Kim (February 25, 2021). "Ex-U.S. Olympics gymnastics coach with ties to Nassar kills himself after being charged". Detroit News. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  18. ^ Li, David K. (February 25, 2021). "Former U.S. gymnastics coach dies by suicide after arrest on sex crimes charges". NBC News. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  19. ^ Oliveira, Nelson (February 25, 2021). "Ex-Olympics gymnastics coach John dies by suicide after being charged with sex crimes, human trafficking". Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on February 26, 2021. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  20. ^ Simko-Bednarski, Evan; Vera, Amir (February 25, 2021). "John Geddert, who had ties to Larry Nassar, found dead after being charged with human trafficking and sex crimes, officials say". CNN. Retrieved February 25, 2021.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

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