CHARLOTTE, Mich. — Former U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics coach John Geddert has been charged with human trafficking, sexual assault, racketeering and lying to a police officer.
Geddert formerly owned and coached at Twistars gymnastics club in Dimondale, Michigan, where hundreds of women say convicted sex offender Larry Nassar sexually abused them. Many said Geddert knew of this abuse, as Nassar had regularly treated young athletes in a back room at Twistars.
Geddert faces 20 counts of human trafficking and forced labor, one count of first-degree sexual assault, one count of second-degree sexual assault, racketeering and lying to a police officer.
His alleged lies to police include:
- Nassar’s role at as a team physician at Twistars
- Saying he had never heard any complaints about Nassar’s treatment
- Denying he was aware of any athletes receiving intravaginal treatments at Twistars
- Saying males were not allowed in the female locker room
Charges were filed Thursday morning.
Geddert’s attorney, Chris Bergstrom, did not respond for comment Thursday.
The human trafficking charges are related to the forced labor resulting in injury to 19 people, six of whom are minors. One of the people has two charges connected to them.
The trafficking charges all are alleged to have occurred between 2008 and 2018. Geddert could face up to 20 years in prison for the six charges involving minors and up to 15 for the other 14 charges.
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The two sexual assault charges involve a 13 to 16-year-old person. The victim is the same in both charges. First-degree sexual assault can carry a sentence of up to life in prison.
Geddert’s charge of racketeering stems from the trafficking charges and allege he trafficked 15 of the victims, known only by their initials, for financial gain. The listed address for racketeering is 9410 Davis Highway in Dimondale, which is where Twistars was.
Geddert has been under investigation for three years, beginning almost immediately after Nassar’s sentencing hearings in January 2018.
“There is no excuse for you not knowing what was happening in your gym,” gymnast Bailey Lorencen said in 2018. “Except for inexcusable neglect and lack of leadership… I don’t understand why anyone could still want to train (at Twistars), especially knowing that in that back room dungeon, hundreds of your athletes were being molested.”
Eaton County began investigating Geddert in February 2018, about a month after USA Gymnastics suspended him. In early 2019, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office took over the investigation.
Geddert announced his retirement several hours after USA Gymnastics suspended him. He then transferred ownership of Twistars to his wife, Kathryn Geddert.
Twistars announced earlier this month that Kathryn Geddert had sold the gym. It was renamed Capital City Flips.
Prosecutors have reviewed police investigations involving Geddert twice in the past, in 2011 and 2013. Neither incident resulted in charges.
Ties to Nassar
Geddert has been tied to Nassar for decades, and three of Nassar’s 10 sexual assault convictions relate to abuse at Twistars. At least one woman who testified in Nassar’s criminal case said Geddert walked in during an instance of her abuse.
In an April 2018 Dateline NBC interview, McKayla Maroney said she told Geddert and several other gymnasts in 2011 about an incident where Nassar “went overboard.” That instance of abuse led her to realize something was wrong.
Maroney told Dateline Geddert was in the car and did not react, but other gymnasts gasped.
In one of the lawsuits against Geddert alleging he knew of Nassar’s abuse but did not take action to stop it, his attorneys said Geddert “was just one person in an extremely long line of people who were fooled by Nassar.”
“In Plaintiffs’ quest to bring Nassar to justice, they overzealously and wrongly accuse Mr. Geddert and his gym, Twistars, of a litany of wrongs, none of which are well-founded in either the facts or the law,” Geddert’s attorneys wrote. “These allegations are made even though Mr. Geddert was not a witness to the alleged abuse and did not learn of it until after Nassar was arrested.”
Contact reporter Kara Berg at 517-377-1113 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @karaberg95.