A former U.S. gymnastics coach died by suicide Thursday, hours after he was charged with over 20 counts including human trafficking, racketeering and criminal sexual conduct.
The Michigan Attorney General’s office confirmed to Rolling Stone that John Geddert, who coached the U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 Olympic games in London, died by suicide and was discovered in Grand Ledge, Michigan after charges were announced against him; Geddert had agreed to surrender to authorities Thursday but never showed up at his arraignment, NBC News reports.
“My office has been notified that the body of John Geddert was found late this afternoon after taking his own life. This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement.
In the criminal complaint filed Thursday, Geddert — who as U.S. gymnastics coach worked for 20 years alongside team physician Larry Nassar, currently serving 60 years to life in prison — was charged with 20 counts of human trafficking, one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and one count of lying to a peace officer during a violent crime investigation.
The latter charge stemmed from misleading statements Geddert made to authorities during the Nassar investigation, with the Michigan Attorney General’s offices stating that Geddert knew abut Nassar’s sexual abuse of gymnasts.
“Mr. Geddert knew that Nassar was sexual abusing these patients and that he failed to take action,” Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark said. “And that when he was asked about it by police officers during the 2016 investigation into Nassar, he lied about that.”
In regards to the most severe charge, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, Geddert was accused of digitally penetrating a girl between the ages of 12 and 16 in 2012. That charge alone, if convicted, carried a life sentence.
“It is alleged that John Geddert used force, fraud, and coercion against the young athletes that came to him for gymnastics training, for financial benefit to him. The victims suffer from disordered eating including bulimia and anorexia, suicide attempts and self-harm, excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform even when injured, extreme emotional abuse and physical abuse including sexual assault,” Nessel said after the charges were filed.
“These allegations focus around multiple acts of verbal, physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by the defendant against multiple young women. I am grateful for these survivors coming forward to cooperate with our investigation and for bravely sharing their stories.”