(Reuters) – USA Gymnastics has expressed shock at the news that former coach John Geddert died by suicide on Thursday aged 63 following charges of human trafficking and sexual assault.
Geddert, who had ties to disgraced team doctor Larry Nassar, was charged with 20 counts of human trafficking, one count of first-degree sexual assault, one count of second-degree sexual assault, criminal enterprise and lying to a police officer, according to court documents filed in Eaton County, Michigan.
“We had hoped that news of the criminal charges being brought against John Geddert would lead to justice through the legal process,” the sport’s U.S. governing body said in a statement on Friday.
“With the news of his death by suicide, we share the feelings of shock, and our thoughts are with the gymnastics community as they grapple with the complex emotions of this week’s events.”
Geddert was coach of the women’s team known as the “Fierce Five” that won gold at the 2012 Olympics and the former owner of the Lansing-area Twistars USA Gymnastics Club for elite athletes where Nassar treated gymnasts.
The charges against Geddert reignited outrage over the abuse scandal that ripped through the crown jewel of U.S. Olympic sport, with Rachael Denhollander, a former gymnast and the first to come forward with abuse allegations against Nassar, among those calling for USA Gymnastics’ decertification.
Geddert was suspended by USA Gymnastics in January 2018.
Former USA Gymnastics doctor Nassar has been given two prison sentences in Michigan of 40 to 125 years and 40 to 175 years for molesting young female gymnasts. He is also serving a 60-year federal term for child pornography convictions.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris)