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Former USA Gymnastics Coach Charged With Abuse Dies By Suicide

Updated at 4:44 p.m. ET

A former USA Gymnastics coach charged Thursday morning with two dozen criminal charges died by suicide hours later, Michigan's state attorney general has confirmed.

John Geddert, 63, was accused of human trafficking, forced labor and sexual misconduct, among other crimes.

In a statement Thursday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said: "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."

Geddert served as head coach for the 2012 U.S. women's Olympic gymnastics team, which took home the team gold medal in London. He also owned a Lansing, Mich.-area elite training facility called Twistars.

Nessel announced the charges at a Thursday afternoon press briefing. She said the charges brought by her office focused on "multiple acts of verbal, physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by the defendant against multiple victims."

Nessel declined to give a specific number of victims other than to say the figure was "less than 50 and they are all minors."

The charges against Geddert were as follows:

  • 14 counts of human trafficking — forced labor resulting in injury, a 15-year felony
  • six counts of human trafficking of a minor for forced labor, a 20-year felony
  • one count of continuing criminal enterprise, a 20-year felony
  • one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a life offense felony
  • one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony
  • one count of lying to a peace officer during a violent crime investigation, a four-year felony
  • Former USA Gymnastics coach John Geddert is seen above during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
    Jamie Squire / Getty Images
    Getty Images
    Former USA Gymnastics coach John Geddert is seen above during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

    The charges were filed in Eaton County, which includes part of Lansing. Nessel told reporters that Geddert had turned himself in for arraignment.

    "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," Nessel said.

    The indictment alleges that Geddert's harsh treatment of his athletes constituted human trafficking and forced labor.

    Geddert had been a renowned figure in elite gymnastics for coaching the "Fierce Five" lineup on the 2012 women's team, which included McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber, Michigan Radio reports.

    The station adds that Geddert was also known for his close relationship with Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics national team physician who was convicted of dozens of cases of sexual abuse. The two were friends and business associates, and three of Nassar's sexual assault convictions occurred at Twistars.

    USA Gymnastics listed Geddert among suspended and restricted persons "pending resolution." The entry for Geddert says, "Membership suspended / Suspended from All Contact."

    Geddert was suspended by USA Gymnastics during the Nassar scandal, according to The Associated Press. The AP adds that he informed families that he was retiring in 2018.

    If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (en español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.