An infamous associate of serial sexual predator Larry Nassar is now facing criminal charges himself.
Former U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics coach John Geddert has been accused of physical abuse by several athletes. Now, he is being charged with sexually assulting a child between 13 and 16 years old, human trafficking, lying to police, and racketeering.
The Eaton County Sheriff’s Department launched an investigation into Geddert in February 2018, which the state attorney general’s office took over in 2019.
The Attorney General Dana Nessel held a news conference Thursday afternoon. The charges against Geddert include:
- 14 counts of human trafficking, forced labor causing injury (15 year felony)
- Six counts human trafficking of a minor for forced labor (20 year felony)
- One count continuing criminal enterprise (20 year felony)
- One count first degree criminal sexual conduct (life offense felony)
- One count second degree criminal sexual conduct (15 year felony)
- One count of lying to a police officer during a violent crime investigation (Four year felony)
Nessel explained, “It is alleged that John Geddert used force, fraud, and coercion against the young athletes that came to him for gymnastics training for a financial benefit to him. The victims suffer from disordered eating, including bulemia and anorexia, suicide attempts and self harm, excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform even when injured, extreme verbal abuse and physcial abuse, including sexual assault.”
Geddert has turned himself in for arraignment, which is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Who is John Geddert?
Geddert is famous within the sport for training elite gymnasts. He was one of two head coaches for the 2012 Olympic team (featuring the “fierce five” lineup of McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber). Geddert was also Wieber’s personal coach when she nabbed the world championship title in 2011.
Geddert is also infamous for his close relationship with Larry Nassar. The two had worked together for decades and were close friends. Geddert owned the Lansing-area Twistars USA Gymnastics club, where many survivors reported being abused by Nassar. Three of Nassar’s ten sexual assault convictions occured at Twistars.
Geddert retired in January 2018, when he handed ownership of Twistars to his wife, who maintained ownership of the gym until a few weeks ago. USA Gymnastics currently lists Geddert as “suspended from all contact” with gymnasts.
A history of allegations
The Nassar scandal wasn’t the first time Geddert had been connected to reports of abuse. He’s been the subject of multiple criminal investigations into alleged physical abuse, dating back to 1986, and has repeatedly been accused by former athletes of physical, verbal and emotional abuse.
Multiple survivors who gave impact statements during Nassar's January 2018 sentencing mentioned Geddert, as well.
When former gymnast Lindsey Lemke asked to address “all of the people who've made this monster [Nassar] possible” during her statement, Geddert was first on her list:
“My teammates and I spent way too many days as innocent children, shaking, crying, trembling, some even trying to take their own lives because of you. And the sad part is you don't even know that, because you could care less about us as people … Those little girls that you treated like objects and things are all grown up now and are here to bring you hell.”
Isabell Hutchins said about Geddert during her statement, “My time at Twistars was the worst time of my life. It was the darkest time of my life. I was depressed and it got to the point where I would physically harm myself because the physical pain was easier to deal with than the emotional pain that I was feeling. I often wondered if it would have been easier to just not live at all.”
In 2019, Michigan Radio spoke to some alleged victims of Geddert involved in the investigation, as well as their parents. "John's not just some tough coach. He's an abusive, narcissistic pig who finds great joy in tearing little girls apart," one parent said. "And it needs to stop."
Geddert has been investigated for assault on at least four other occasions. In 1986, he allegedly pushed some spectators at the now-closed Great Lakes Gymnastics down a flight of stairs. Geddert said he only escorted the spectators outside the gym and denied pushing anyone. In 1990, he allegedly grabbed a male gymnast by his shirt and pushing him to the ground. Geddert told police the gymnast fell.
In 2011 and 2013, Geddert became the focus of two separate Michigan State Police investigations for incidents in which he was accused of physically assaulting young gymnasts. Charges weren't filed in any of those cases.