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Facing Charges, Ex-USA Gymnastics Coach Kills Self

Paul Steinbach Headshot

The strange USA Gymnastics saga just keeps getting more tragic. John Geddert, a former coach with ties to imprisoned former team physician Larry Nassar, died by suicide Thursday, hours after he was charged in Michigan with more than 20 crimes, including assault, human trafficking and running a criminal enterprise.

As reported by The Associated Press, Geddert had reportedly agreed to surrender at a sheriff's office before his arraignment. After he failed to show up, police found Geddert's body. 

Geddert, 63, was head coach of the 2012 U.S. women's Olympic gymnastics team, the so-called Fierce Five, which won gold in London. Nassar was the team's doctor and also treated injured gymnasts at Twistars, Geddert's Lansing-area gym for elite athletes.

Geddert is accused of injuring people for years through forced labor and recruiting minors for forced labor, according to documents filed in an Eaton County court, near Lansing. He also is charged with molesting a teen with hands in 2012. According to the AP, authorities said Geddert also lied to investigators in 2016 when he said he had never heard anyone complain about Nassar, who is current serving a life sentence after dozens of former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics athletes in his care testified to his repeated sexual abuse.

Geddert insisted he had "zero knowledge" of Nassar's crimes, although some gymnasts said Geddert forced them to see Nassar and was physically abusive himself.

During Nassar's sentencing, a woman said Geddert was aware in the late 1990s that Nassar had performed an "inappropriate procedure" on her when she was 16. A prosecutor read her anonymous statement in court.

Geddert was suspended by Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics during the Nassar scandal and retired in 2018.

The self-described "most decorated women's gymnastics coach in Michigan gymnastics history," Geddert boasted that his Twistars teams had won 130 club championships.

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