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Former USA Olympic gymnastics coach faces abuse charges

Josh Marcus
·3-min read
<p>Former USA Olympic gymnastics coach John Geddert faces abuse charges</p> (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Former USA Olympic gymnastics coach John Geddert faces abuse charges

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

A coach with ties to Larry Nassar, the former Olympic doctor sent to prison for life for serially abusing young female gymnasts, was charged with 24 crimes including sexual assault, human trafficking, and running a criminal enterprise on Thursday in Michigan.

According to documents filed in Michigan court, John Geddert, head coach of the 2012 women’s Olympic gymnastics team, on which Mr Nassar was team doctor, sexually assaulted a teenager.

“These allegations focus around multiple acts of verbal, physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by the defendant against multiple young women,” Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel said on Thursday in a statement.

“I am grateful for these survivors coming forward to cooperate with our investigation and for bravely sharing their stories.”

The famed coach is also accused of recruiting young people into forced labor, pushing them to perform at a high standard and using threats and coercion to get them to keep delivering even when injured.

“Geddert’s treatment of young gymnasts constitutes human trafficking as he reportedly subjected his athletes to forced labor or services under extreme conditions that contributed to them suffering injuries and harm,” the Michigan attorney general’s office, which filed the charges, wrote in a statement.

“Geddert then neglected those injuries that were reported to him by the victims and used coercion, intimidation, threats and physical force to get them to perform to the standard he expected.”

The elite coach, who taught future Olympians at his Twistars gym in the Lansing, Michigan area, allegedly neglected the advice of doctors, except that provided by Mr Nassar, who served two decades as Mr Geddert’s team physician and in-house medical expert at Twistars.

Mr Geddert is charged with committing at least one sexual assault and “multiple incidents of physical abuse” against numerous young female athletes, according to the AG’s office.

He’s expected to turn himself in and be arraigned on Thursday afternoon.

Geddert previously owned Twistars USA Gymnastics in Dimondale, Michigan, just outside of Lansing, where dozens of women say they were sexually assaulted by Nassar.

Geddert and Nassar worked closely for decades as they both rose to the very top of the sport.

Nassar began sexually assaulting minor gymnasts on his training table as far back as the late 1980s, according to the accounts of multiple women.

Geddert is the fifth person to face criminal charges stemming from the Nassar case.

Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny was arrested on evidence tampering charges in 2018.

Former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon, former medical school dean William Strampel and former gymnastics coach Kathie Klages were all charged with crimes.

Strampel served eight months of a 1-year prison sentence before he was released last spring.

Klages was found guilty of lying to police in August 2020 and sentenced to 90 days in jail.

Charges against Simon were dismissed in May 2020, but the Attorney General’s office is appealing that decision.

Mr Geddert did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

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