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Former US Olympics coach charged with human trafficking commits suicide

Nicole Iuzzolino, DCNF

Former U.S. Olympics gymnastics coach John Geddert has died by suicide at 63 years old after being charged with human trafficking, the New York Post reported.

On Thursday, Geddert was charged with crimes including sexual assault, human trafficking, lying to a police officer and running a criminal enterprise, the Post reported.  According to the criminal charges filed by Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel, the former coach could have faced up to a life sentence, ESPN reported.

“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,”  Nessel said in a press conference. The attorney general added that victims of Geddert suffered from disordered eating, suicide attempts and self-harm, excessive physical conditioning, being forced to perform when injured, and emotional and physical abuse.

In January of 2018 USA Gymnastics suspended Geddert to, “ensure the safety and well-being of the gymnastics community,” CNN reported. A month later investigations into Geddert began due to the rising number of complaints of his coaching style.

John Geddert was the former owner of the Twinstars Gymnastic Club where the disgraced athletic doctor Larry Nassar admitted to sexually abusing young female gymnasts. Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison.

Days after his suspension, Geddert announced he was retiring from coaching and transferred Twinstars Gymnastic Club over to his wife and coaching partner, ESPN reported. The gym was sold to new owners early February.

After Larry Nassar was fired by USA Gymnastics in 2015, John Geddert continued to support him, according to CNN. He stated how Nassar was an “extremely professional physician” and went “above and beyond” for the gymnast students they worked with.

John Geddert is the fifth individual with ties to Larry Nassar to face criminal charges, ESPN reported. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny was brought up on charges of evidence tampering in 2018.

Former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon, former medical school dean William Strampel, and former gymnastics coach Kathie Klages were all brought up on criminal charges as well, according to ESPN.

Nessel said his office plans to appeal the dismissal of charges against Simon.

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