Washington, Feb 25 (efe-epa).- The former coach of the US women’s Olympic gymnastics team, John Geddert, committed suicide on Thursday after being charged with 24 crimes, including sexual assault and human trafficking, all of them linked to athletes he supervised, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel reported.
Nessel said in a statement that her office had been informed that Geddert’s body was found Thursday afternoon after he took his life, adding that “This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved.”
Geddert was scheduled to appear in court on Thursday after he had been formally accused by prosecutors of at least one sexual assault and multiple incidents of physical abuse against dozens of his female athletes.
Specifically, Geddert was facing 20 counts for alleged human trafficking, including six counts related to minors; one for racketeering and two charges of criminal sexual assault on a teenager.
The remaining charge was for lying to investigators about the sexual abuse case involving Larry Nassar, the women’s Olympic team physician.
In an earlier communique, the attorney general had said that the allegations focused on multiple acts of verbal, physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by Geddert against many young female athletes.
Geddert, the former owner of a gymnasium in Lansing, Michigan, had been accused of human trafficking for allegedly subjecting athletes to “forced work” under extreme conditions that contributed to their suffering injuries, Nessel’s office said in the statement.
When the gymnasts complained, the coach ignored them and used intimidation, threats and physical force to ensure that they continued to act in accord with his expectations.
In addition, the AG argued, he used his reputation as an Olympic coach to promise the parents of his athletes that he would transform their daughters into top-caliber competitors which would enable them to obtain athletic scholarships at universities, but then he subjected the girls to ongoing abuse, denying them medical attention, except that provided by Nassar.
The investigation into Geddert’s activities was launched in February 2018 as a result of the Nassar case. In that prior case, the former doctor for the female gymnastics team sexually abused hundreds of young women and female teens, was convicted of the crimes and sentenced to more than 300 years in prison.
Geddert coached the US gymnastics team that won the goal medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.