Dimondale, MI – A former USA Olympic gymnastics coach who worked alongside disgraced former USA Olympic doctor Larry Nassar for more than 25 years was found dead on Thursday an hour after he was due to be arraigned on a slew of sexual abuse charges.
John Geddert, 63, owned the gyms in Michigan where Nassar worked and abused countless young gymnasts starting back before he even became a physician, ESPN reported.
Nassar was sentenced to up to 300 years in prison for his crimes by state and federal courts and is incarcerated for life at the U.S. Penitentiary in Coleman, Illinois.
On Feb. 25, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office announced 24 felony charges against the former gym owner and coach, according to a press release from the Michigan Department of the Attorney General.
Geddert was facing 14 counts of human trafficking – forced labor causing injury and six counts of human trafficking of a minor for forced labor.
Those felonies each carry 15-year and 20-year sentences, respectively, according to the AG’s press release.
Prosecutors also charged Geddert with the 20-year felony of continuing criminal enterprise and the 15-year felony of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
He was also facing four years in prison for lying to a peace officer during a violent crime investigation, the press release said.
“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 in a statement. “The charges against Mr. Geddert are the result of a great deal of hard work by my investigators and prosecutors, and I would like to express my gratitude for their devoted service, as well as the cooperation and efforts of the Michigan State Police, Eaton County Sheriff’s Office and Eaton County Prosecutor Doug Lloyd and his staff.”
“This case has truly been a joint effort by law enforcement and another example of how authorities at multiple levels of government can work together in pursuit of justice,” the attorney general added.
The Michigan Attorney General’s Office said in the press release announcing the charges that Geddert was expected to turn himself in to authorities at the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Substation in Delta Township.
He was scheduled to be arraigned at 2:15 p.m. on Feb. 25 in Eaton County District Court but never showed up.
Michigan State Police found Geddert’s body at an interstate highway rest stop at about 3:24 p.m. that same day, ESPN reported.
“We had no indication that Geddert intended to flee or hurt himself or others. We had been in contact with his attorney and were assured of his cooperation,” Nessel’s spokeswoman, Kelly Rossman-McKinney, said.
Officials said Geddert knew that Nassar was sexually abusing patients at his gym and lied to police about it during a 2016 investigation into Nassar.
Geddert also faced charges for his abuse of gymnasts he coached at his Michigan gyms, ESPN reported.
Court document said Geddert digitally penetrated a female gymnast who was between the ages of 13 and 16.
Geddert was considered one of Nassar’s biggest enablers by the gymnastics community going back as far as the late 1980s, CNN reported.
“He [Geddert] tortured and abused little girls, myself included, for more than 30 years and was able to cheat justice,” Sarah Klein, one of Nassar’s victims, said.
Some of the survivors felt cheated that Geddert wouldn’t face punishment but others were just relived he was dead, CNN reported.
“Geddert was a narcissistic abuser,” Klein continued. “His suicide is an admission of guilt that the entire world can now see. Also guilty are his enablers including the top officials at USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee who promoted him, enabled him and allowed him to coach Team USA.”