Olympic coach John Geddert with ties to Larry Nassar charged with 24 counts of human trafficking, sexual assault
Geddert could face up to 20 years in prison for the six charges involving minors and up to 15 for the other 14 charges of human trafficking. The first-degree sexual assault charge can carry a sentence of up to life in prison
CHARLOTTE, MICHIGAN: Former U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics coach John Geddert has reportedly been charged with 20 counts of human trafficking and forced labor, one count of first-degree sexual assault, one count of second-degree sexual assault, racketeering, and lying to a police officer. 63-year-old Geddert was in charge when the Fierce Five squad won gold at the 2012 Games in London.
The charges were filed Thursday morning, February 25. Geddert could face up to 20 years in prison for the six charges involving minors and up to 15 for the other 14 charges. The first-degree sexual assault charge can carry a sentence of up to life in prison.
As per a report, Geddert formerly owned and coached at Twistars gymnastics club in Dimondale, Michigan, where hundreds of women alleged former U.S. Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar -- a convicted serial rapist and sex offender -- sexually abused them. Many of these women have also said that Geddert knew of this abuse.
As per the report, Geddert allegedly lied to the police about Nassar's role as a team physician at Twistars, saying he had never heard any complaints about Nassar's treatment, denying he was aware of any athletes receiving intravaginal treatments at Twistars, saying males were not allowed in the female locker room.
The trafficking charges allegedly occurred between 2008 and 2018. The two sexual assault charges involve a 13 to 16-year-old person. The victim is the same in both charges. As per the report, the charge of racketeering stems from the trafficking charges and alleges he trafficked 15 of the victims, known only by their initials, for financial gain.
Geddert has reportedly been under investigation for three years, beginning almost immediately after Nassar’s sentencing hearings in January 2018. Eaton County began investigating Geddert in February 2018, about a month after USA Gymnastics suspended him. In early 2019, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office took over the investigation.
Shortly after Nassar was sentenced in 2018, Lindsey Lemke, a former gymnast, spoke about alleged abuses she had suffered at the hands of Geddert. Lemke, who trained under Geddert before joining the team at Michigan State, said Geddert should follow Nassar to prison. "He was abusive," Lemke said. "He deserves to be in jail with Larry."
During Nassar's sentencing, some women testified that after Geddert allegedly abused them during training, Nassar would swoop in to provide treatment and build trust. Makayla Thrush, a former Twistars gymnast, said her career ended at the hands of Geddert -- he allegedly pushed her so hard into a training apparatus, she suffered torn stomach muscles. "You told me to kill myself not just once, but many other times," Thrush said. "After you ended my career, I tried."
Geddert has been investigated by police twice for reports of physical assault. In 2011, after Geddert got into a heated argument with an employee, he allegedly stepped on her foot so she couldn’t walk away and “chest bumped her.” Eaton County prosecutors did not charge Geddert, saying they couldn’t prove “assaultive intent beyond a reasonable doubt”.
In October 2013, police investigated Geddert again for physically assaulting a minor gymnast. The gymnast told police Geddert got mad at her during practice, took her into a locker room, stepped on her foot, grabbed her arm, and pushed her into a wall. Geddert denied assaulting the gymnast. Prosecutor Doug Lloyd reviewed the case and ordered Geddert to complete counseling or face charges. Geddert completed counseling and the case was closed, according to the police report.
ESPN reported earlier that several gymnasts and parents who watched Geddert coach said he regularly berated young girls in his program and pushed them or stepped on their toes to get their attention.