Former US Olympic Head Coach Dies By Suicide After Being Charged With Human Trafficking
A former Olympic women’s gymnastics coach has taken his own life just hours after being charged with human trafficking and sexual assault, according to officials.
John Geddert, who coached the United States women’s gymnastics team that won the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics, was found dead on Thursday afternoon, February 25.
Just hours prior, the 63-year-old had been charged with 24 felonies, including 20 counts of human trafficking and two counts of criminal sexual conduct; several of which are related to minors.
His death was confirmed by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, described his death as ‘a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved’.
Geddert worked closely with the US women’s gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who is currently serving life in jail for abusing more than 250 girls. At Nassar’s 2018 trial, several gymnasts also accused Geddert of abuse. He is also accused of lying when giving evidence at Nassar’s trial.
Hours before his death, the attorney general outlined charges that focused around ‘multiple acts of verbal, physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by the defendant against multiple young women’, as per the BBC.
The human trafficking charges claim he subjected his athletes ‘to forced labour or services under extreme conditions that contributed to them suffering injuries and harm’.
‘It is alleged that John Geddert used force, fraud, and coercion against the young athletes that came to him for gymnastics training for financial benefit to him,’ Nessel said during a press conference on Thursday.
‘The victims suffer from disordered eating including bulimia and anorexia, suicide attempts and self-harm, excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform even when injured, extreme emotional abuse, and physical abuse including sexual assault.’
He is also accused of ‘neglecting 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’.
One of his alleged sexual assault victims is said to be a girl between the ages of 13 and 16.
Nessel went on to say that while many people might be surprised to learn of the human trafficking charges, they are appropriate when it comes to the accusations made against Geddert.
‘We think of it predominantly as affecting people of colour, or those without means to protect themselves from this type of crime, but honestly it can happen to anyone, anywhere,’ Nessel said.
‘Just like the perpetrators of domestic violence and sexual assault, traffickers can seize an opportunity at any time, and use the vulnerability of their victims to their advantage.’
Geddert had been scheduled to hand himself in at the sheriff’s office on Thursday afternoon, however concerns were raised when he failed to turn up. It later confirmed that he had been found dead after taking his own life.
If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this article, and with to speak to someone in confidence, you can contact The Survivor’s Trust by calling 08088 010818 or emailing [email protected]
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