Former US Olympic gymnastics coach John Geddert died of suicide on Thursday, hours after he was charged with two dozen crimes stemming from allegations that he physically, emotionally and sexually abused gymnasts during his custody.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel confirmed that Geddert took his own life Thursday afternoon, calling his death “a tragic end to a tragic story for all involved.”
Michigan State Police confirmed that Geddert’s body was found at an interstate highway parking lot at 6 p.m. 15:24 ET.
Geddert, 63, was scheduled to appear in court at 6 p.m. 2.15pm in Eaton County, Michigan, Thursday.
“We had no indication that Geddert intended to flee or injure himself or others. We had been in contact with his lawyer and had secured his cooperation,” said Nessel spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney.
Michigan state officials charged Geddert with 24 crimes: 20 counts of human trafficking and forced labor, one count of first-degree sexual assault, one count of second-degree sexual assault, extortion and lying to a police officer. A lawyer from the Michigan Attorney General’s office also said Thursday that Geddert knew that the disgraced Team USA doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused patients in the gym where both men worked and lied to police about it during an investigation by Nassar in 2016.
The rest of the charges against Geddert are all linked to his own behavior with gymnasts he trained in gyms he owned in Michigan. Law enforcement began investigating Geddert in February 2018 in the wake of complaints raised about his violent coaching style during Nassar’s sentencing.
Legal documents published on Thursday claim, among other things, that in January 2012, Geddert digitally penetrated a girl who was between 13 and 16 years old.
Geddert previously owned Twistars USA Gymnastics in Dimondale, Michigan, just outside Lansing, where dozens of women say they were sexually assaulted by Nassar under the guise of medical treatment. Geddert and Nassar worked side by side for more than a quarter of a century, while both reached the pinnacle of elite gymnastics.
Pike has long been seen in the gymnastics community as one of Nassar’s most important enablers. As far back as the late 1980s, at the Great Lakes Gymnastics Club in Lansing, before he was even a licensed physician, Nassar began assaulting underage gymnasts at his training table, according to reports from several women.
Sarah Klein, who was trained by Geddert at Great Lakes Gymnastics, is one of the earliest known survivors of Nassar’s sexual abuse. When asked about her reaction to Geddert’s suicide, she said it was “traumatic without words.”
“He tortured and abused little girls, including myself, for more than 30 years and was able to cheat justice,” Klein said. “Pike was a narcissistic addict. His suicide is an admission of guilt that the whole world can now see.”
Geddert rose to national prominence in the early 2000s and was named the U.S. national team coach for the London Olympics in 2012. His role as national coach led him to travel the globe with America’s top gymnasts. Many of these gymnasts, including all members of the famous Fierce Five who won gold in London, say that Nassar abused them during their international travels.
Former Olympian McKayla Maroney says she was in a car with Geddert on such an international trip, in Tokyo during the World Championships in 2011. During the car trip, Maroney gave a graphic description of how Nassar had touched her inappropriately during a treatment session the night before, according to several people who overheard her remarks. Geddert did not respond at the time, according to reports from the passengers in the car, but had since denied having overheard Maroney’s comments.
USA Gymnastics suspended Geddert during Nassar’s sentencing in January 2018 amid a stream of public complaints from former gymnasts about his violent coaching style. Geddert announced that he was retiring from coaching day after being suspended by USA Gymnastics. He handed over ownership of Twistars USA to his wife and coaching partner in 2018. The gym was sold to new owners earlier this month.
USA Gymnastics said in a statement late Thursday that news of the charges against Geddert would “lead to justice through the legal process.”
“With the news of his suicide death, we share the feelings of shock, and our thoughts are with the gymnastics community as they struggle with the complex emotions of today’s events,” the organization said.
Pike was the fifth person facing criminal charges stemming from the Nassar case. Former United States Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny was arrested on charges of manipulating evidence in 2018. In Michigan State, where Nassar was employed, former president Lou Anna Simon, former medical school dean William Strampel and former gymnastics coach Kathie Klages were arrested. all charged with crimes. Strampel, Nassar’s former boss, was charged with misconduct and willful misconduct and served an eight-month prison sentence of one year before being released last spring. Complainant was found guilty of lying to police in August 2020 and sentenced to 90 days in prison. Charges of lying to police against Simon were dismissed in May 2020, but the attorney general’s office is appealing that decision, Nessel said Thursday.
Nassar, 57, is currently serving a 60-year prison sentence for child pornography charges in a federal prison near Orlando, Florida, but he also risks an additional maximum of up to 175 years in prison for his state-of-the-art convictions in Ingham and Eaton County. Michigan. Earlier this month, Nassar appealed his case to the Michigan Supreme Court. Nessel said Thursday that Nassar’s verdict in the trial should stand, describing it as “a fair and just verdict.”
Nassar’s sentencing attracted international attention as more than 150 women and girls filed affidavits in the courtroom. Many of them said Geddert’s violent coaching style made them seek solace in the more docile Nassar, who then used that confidence to sexually assault them. Lindsey Hull, who competed in Twistars and in Michigan State under her maiden name Lindsey Lemke, said during that sentencing that Geddert belonged behind bars with Nassar. On Thursday, she said her first reaction to Geddert’s death was that he “took the easy way out.”
“We can assume this stems from his guilt and knew he was guilty,” Hull said. “The hardest part about this is that we never get to know … How much work AG’s office has had to do in the last three years to finally reach this day, for nothing. The case is considered complete, but we will never have a real end. “
The Associated Press contributed to this report.