Ex-Olympics gymnastics coach John Geddert dies by suicide hours after sex abuse charges filed

The 2012 USA Olympic coach reportedly died Thursday after a number of charges were filed against him hours earlier

2012 USA Olympic gymnastics coach John Geddert has died after a self-inflicted gunshot wound Thursday afternoon just hours after authorities had filed charges against him, including human trafficking and criminal sexual assault charges.

Geddert was set to face 14 charges of human trafficking, forced labor causing injury, six counts of human trafficking of a minor for forced labor and one count each of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, continuing criminal enterprise, second-degree criminal sexual conduct and lying to a peace officer during a violent crime investigation, according to an announcement from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Thursday.

The 63-year-old had served as head coach of the 2012 U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team, which won a gold medal with the help of Olympians including Gabby Douglas.

Geddert was accused of recruiting minors for forced labor, a reference to the gymnasts he coached, according to documents filed in an Eaton County court. Prosecutors also believed Geddert lied to investigators in 2016 when he denied ever hearing complaints about disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar, who is serving decades in prison for sexually assaulting female athletes in a scandal that included hundreds of victims.

Nessel said in her news conference that the Michigan native used “force, fraud and coercion” for financial benefit.

“The victims suffer from disordered eating,” Nessel said, “including bulimia and anorexia, suicide attempts and attempts at self harm, excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform even when injured, extreme emotional abuse and physical abuse, including sexual assault.

“Many of these victims still carry these scars from this behavior to this day,” the attorney general said.

The charges against Geddert include two counts of sexual assault against a teen in 2012.

Nessel acknowledged that the case might not fit the common understanding of human trafficking.

“We think of it predominantly as affecting people of color or those without means to protect themselves ... but honestly it can happen to anyone, anywhere,” she said. “Young impressionable women may at times be vulnerable and open to trafficking crimes, regardless of their stature in the community or the financial well-being of their families.”

Geddert, who had been head coach of Great Lakes Gymnastics in Lansing, Michigan, described himself as the “most decorated women’s gymnastics coach in Michigan gymnastics history” on his LinkedIn page, noting that his Twistars teams won 130 club championships.

The husband and father’s exemplary coaching record was marred when victims speaking about Nassar in court hearings described his role in the abuse at the hands of the former sports doctor.

“What a great best friend John was to Larry for giving him an entire world where he was able to abuse so easily,” said Lindsey Lemke, now a coach at the University of Arkansas. “You two sure do have a funny meaning of friendship. You, John Geddert, also deserve to sit behind bars right next to Larry.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.