LANSING, Mich. — Former U.S. gymnastics coach John Geddert was found dead at an interstate highway rest stop in Grand Ledge, Michigan just hours after he was criminally charged on Thursday, according to a spokesperson for the Michigan Attorney General’s office.
“This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved,” Michigan AG Dana Nessel said. Earlier in the same day, she had announced 24 charges against the 63-year-old including running a criminal enterprise, sexual assault, and lying to a police officer.
Geddert allegedly enabled the torture and sexual assault done by accomplices. Girls say he forced them to perform under extreme emotional and physical abuse. The gymnasts under Geddert have been diagnosed with bulimia, anorexia, and have made multiple suicide attempts. They’ve quoted him as a “narcissistic abuser.”
Geddert, an associate of condemned doctor Larry Nassar, formerly led the gold medal Women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He rose to notoriety in the early 2000s, winning USA National Coach Of The Year in 2007.
He was the owner of Michigan’s Twistar’s Gymnastics Club, where Nassar sexually abused underage girls under the guise of medical procedure. Court documents say Geddert turned a blind eye to Nassar’s crimes, even going as far as to lie to police about the abuse.
The reign of fear lasted from 2008 to 2016. Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison in 2018. Geddert’s abusive coaching style led the girls to seek comfort from the mild-mannered Nassar, who in-turn sexually assaulted them.
Geddert was suspended by USA Gymnastics in 2018. He was quoted as having supported Nassar even after the stories of abuse came forward, saying Nassar was an “extremely professional” man who “goes above and beyond” for his gymnasts.
Sarah Klein, Larry Nassar’s first public victim, issued a statement on Geddert’s death.
“The bravery of Geddert’s many victims will stand for all time in stark contrast to his cowardice,” Klein’s statement read. “As a survivor and a mother of two young girls, my only comfort is in the knowledge that I can rest my head on the pillow every night knowing that John Geddert will never terrorize and abuse another child.”
The investigation of Geddert had been forwarded to the Michigan Attorney General’s office from the Eaton County Sheriff’s Department. The probe began after complaints of his abusive coaching style began to arise.
Lindsay Lemke, who performed under Geddert, says he “took the easy way out.”
“We can assume this stems from him being guilty and knowing he was guilty,” Hull said. “The hardest part about this is that we’ll never know. … The amount of work that the AG’s office has had to put in for over the past three years to finally get to this day, all for nothing. The case is considered done, but we’ll never have an actual ending.”
Nassar is currently housed at the Coleman II U.S. Penitentiary, a federal all-male high security facility near Orlando, Florida.