One of John Geddert’s alleged victims has said ‘his abuse was far worse than the sexual abuse by Larry Nassar’ as she slammed his suicide as an ‘escape from justice’ after ‘torturing and abusing little girls for more than 30 years’.
Sarah Klein, who was the first survivor to come forward about sexual abuse by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Nassar, said she ‘would take Larry Nassar over and over again before I would ever take John Geddert ever again.’
Other Nassar survivors are also speaking out after Geddert, 63, shot himself dead Thursday with Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman saying abuse at USA Gymnastics ‘is & has always been bigger than John Geddert, Marvin Sharpe, Steve Penny, and Larry Nassar’.
Former gymnast Rachael Denhollander, who says she was just 15 when Nassar started abusing her, also tweeted that Geddert’s choice to commit suicide ‘was his, and his alone’ and that his victims had ‘put an end to the abuse and save[d] others’.
Geddert, a father-of-three who set up his Twistars gym with wife Kathryn in 1996, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound Thursday hours after he was charged with 24 counts.
He was accused of injuring people for years through forced labor, recruiting minors for forced labor, molesting a teen with his hands in 2012 and lying to authorities in 2016 when he said he wasn’t aware of the alleged abuse by his close colleague Nassar.
Geddert was USA gymnastics head coach at the same time that Nassar was the team doctor. The two men also worked together at Twistars where much of Nassar’s abuse took place.
Nassar is currently behind bars for sexually assaulting gymnasts and possessing child pornography.
Sarah Klein (pictured), one of John Geddert’s alleged victims has said ‘his abuse was far worse than the sexual abuse by Larry Nassar’ as she slammed his suicide as an ‘escape from justice’ after ‘torturing and abusing little girls for more than 30 years’
Klein, a former gymnast who was coached by Geddert for 10 years, told Fox 66 Thursday the abuse by the head coach was ‘far worse’ than the 17 years of sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of Nassar.
‘John Geddert’s abuse of me and many of my sister survivors was far worse than the sexual abuse I suffered for 17 straight years at the hands of Larry Nassar,’ she said.
‘I would take Larry Nassar over and over again before I would ever encounter John Geddert ever again.’
She added: ‘It was pure trauma.’
Klein says she was abused by Nassar for more than 17 years from the age of 8.
Klein, who is now an attorney for victims of child sex abuse, described Geddert as a ‘narcissist’ who was also Nassar’s ‘biggest enabler.’
‘Larry Nassar was one part of the story. John Geddert was his biggest enabler,’ she said.
Klein blasted Geddert for having ‘the last word’ by committing suicide so he will no longer face justice for decades of alleged abuse of her and other girls.
‘We finally felt this morning that the two men that harmed us the most were both going to pay for it,’ she said.
‘This story today went sideways. It’s really difficult. The fact that narcissist John Geddert had what feels to me like the last word.
Klein, who was the first survivor to come forward about sexual abuse by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Nassar (right), said she ‘would take Larry Nassar over and over again before I would ever take John Geddert (left) ever again’
John Geddert died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound Thursday just hours after he was brought up on two dozen charges including sexual assault and human trafficking. He’s pictured with the US women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London
‘Mister above the law, I take no responsibility for harming these women is devastating.’
When asked if she had a message to Geddert’s victims who may feel some involvement in his death, Klein admitted her instant reaction was to think she played a role in it but told her fellow survivors that ‘we were little girls’ when he allegedly abused them.
‘I had the same thought at 41 years old,’ she said.
‘I have been very outspoken of Geddert’s abuse. And being a lawyer and having decades of therapy, still had that initial reaction if I did something to cause this.
‘But at the end of the day we were little girls. I was 8, 9, 10, 12, 14…’
Klein released a statement on social media Friday saying Geddert ‘tortured and abused little girls, myself included, for more than 30 years’ and that his suicide was an ‘escape from justice’.
‘John Geddert’s escape from justice by committing suicide is traumatizing beyond words,’ she wrote.
‘He tortured and abused little girls, myself included, for more than 30 years and was able to cheat justice. Geddert was a narcissistic abuser.’
Klein released a statement on social media Friday saying Geddert ‘tortured and abused little girls, myself included, for more than 30 years’ and that his suicide was an ‘escape from justice’
Klein said the disgraced coach’s suicide was an ‘admission of guilt that the entire world can now see.’
She added that the ‘only comfort’ from his death was knowing she can now ‘rest my head on the pillow every night knowing that John Geddert will never terrorize and abuse another child.’
Klein praised the ‘bravery’ of his ‘many’ victims which will ‘stand for all time in stark contrast to his cowardice.’
She also hit out at officials at the top gymnastics organizations for ‘enabling’ Geddert to carry out the alleged abuse.
‘Also guilty are his enablers including the top officials at USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee who promoted him, enabled him and allowed him to coach Team USA,’ Klein said.
Raisman, who was captain of the 2012 ‘Fierce Five’ women’s women’s Olympic gymnastics team that earned a gold medal under head coach Geddert, also hinted at a wider cycle of abuse of within USA Gymnastics in a social media statement Thursday night.
Aly Raisman, who was captain of the 2012 ‘Fierce Five’ women’s women’s Olympic gymnastics team that earned a gold medal under head coach Geddert and a Nassar survivor, also hinted at a wider cycle of abuse of within USA Gymnastics in a social media statement Thursday night
Rachael Denhollander, the former gymnast who was the first Nassar victim to file a criminal complaint against him, also pledged her support for Geddert survivors on Twitter Thursday night
The 26-year-old retired athlete, who was one of the most high-profile athletes to name Nassar as her abuser, hit out at the top gymnastics organization for its ‘failure’ to protect minors from the so-called ”responsible’ adults’ who have been accused of historic abuse.
‘As a minor on the National Team, I frequently had to travel (without my parents) under the supervision of USA Gymnastics. The ‘responsible’ adults included John Geddert, Marvin Sharpe, Steve Penny, and Larry Nassar,’ she wrote on Instagram.
‘Respectively, the criminal offenses they have been charged with include Criminal Sexual Conduct and Racketeering, Child Molesting, Destroying Evidence, and Sexual assault.
‘For an organization that has claimed for the past 15+ years that ‘athlete safety is the No. 1 priority,’ it’s impossible to imagine a greater failure.’
Raisman called for an independent investigation into abuse at USA Gymnastics as she said it was ‘bigger’ than the details currently known.
‘This is & has always been bigger than John Geddert, Marvin Sharpe, Steve Penny, and Larry Nassar,’ she wrote.
‘Why is there still no independent investigation? How many more children have to suffer?’
Raisman has not accused Geddert of abusing her but said in 2018 that he was present during a conversation in a car in 2011 where a fellow gymnast said she had been sexually assaulted by Nassar.
Geddert denied all knowledge of Nassar’s abuse.
Sharp was a former Indianapolis gymnastics coach who committed suicide while in the Marion County Jail in 2015 where he was being held accused of molesting a 14-year-old gymnast and possessing child pornography.
The 49-year-old was an Olympic coach for the Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics in 2008.
He was also named the USA Gymnastics 2010 Coach of the Year.
Former USA Gymnastics CEO Penny, meanwhile, was arrested on evidence tampering charges in 2018 related to the Nassar case.
Penny was accused of destroying or hiding documents about Nassar’s abuse at former national training center the Karolyi ranch outside Huntsville, Texas.
Geddert celebrating winning gold in the women’s team of the artistic gymnastics event of the London Olympic Games with the ‘Fierce Five’ gymnasts Gabrielle Douglas, Mckayla Maroney, Alexandra Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and Kyla Ross
Geddert was head coach of the 2012 US women’s Olympic gymnastics team, which won a gold medal. He is seen above celebrating the American team’s victory during the London Summer Games in 2012
In 2012, he coached the US women’s gymnastics team to a gold medal. That squad included the ‘Fierce Five,’ which included Aly Raisman (left, in black), Gabby Douglas (second from left), McKayla Maroney (center), Kyla Ross (second from right), and Jordyn Wieber (right)
Rachael Denhollander, the former gymnast who was the first Nassar victim to file a criminal complaint against him, also pledged her support for Geddert survivors after news broke of his death Thursday.
‘So much pain and grief for everyone. To the survivors, you have been heard and believed, and we stand with you,’ she tweeted.
‘Thank you for telling the truth. What you have done matters. Please stay safe, you are loved and wanted here.’
Denhollander later retweeted a post from a woman who said an abuser who commits suicide is ‘responsible for his outcome – not his victims’.
The gymnast shared the message and wrote: ‘Words of grace and truth from someone who knows. Geddert’s choice today was his, and his alone.
‘What each survivor did was put an end to the abuse and save others. Thank you.’
Geddert’s body was found by Michigan State Police troopers at the rest area on EB I-96 in Clinton County at 3.24 p.m. Thursday.
This came hours after he was charged with two dozen crimes including sexual assault, human trafficking and running a criminal enterprise.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office said Geddert had agreed to surrender to authorities at Eaton County Sheriff’s Office in Delta Township on Thursday before 2:15pm but he never showed up.
His arraignment was scheduled at Eaton County District Court before Judge Julie O’Neill.
‘My office has been notified that the body of John Geddert was found late this afternoon after taking his own life,’ Nessel wrote in a statement.
‘This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved.’
State prosecutors had charged Geddert Thursday with 14 counts of human trafficking; six counts of human trafficking of a minor for forced labor; one count of continuing criminal enterprise; one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct; one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct; and one count of lying to a peace officer during a violent crime investigation, a four-year felony.
The two counts related to sexual conduct were brought after Geddert allegedly engaged in ‘sexual penetration’ of a girl under 16 in January 2012, according to the complaint.
The count related to lying to a peace officer accused Geddert of lying to investigators in 2016 when he said he had never heard anyone complain about Nassar’s abuse.
‘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.
‘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.
‘Many of these victims still carry these scars from his behavior to this day.’
Geddert would have faced a maximum prison sentence of life if convicted.
Geddert was head coach of the 2012 US women’s Olympic gymnastics team, which won a gold medal.
Nassar was the team’s doctor and also treated injured gymnasts at Twistars, Geddert’s Lansing-area gym for elite athletes.
It is alleged that Nassar abused several gymnasts at Twistars.
One woman who spoke to WLNS about Geddert in 2018 but wished to remain anonymous described him as the ‘boss, the enforcer, the screamer, the thrower, the perfectionist, the one from whom we desperately sought approval, or even just some small sign that he actually cared for us and not just for winning’.
Gymnast Lindsey Lemke described one incident to the station, saying: ‘While a gymnast would be in the spotting belt over a set of uneven bars, they would often get dropped from mid air, 15 feet up, if they made a mistake.
‘Geddert would let go of the ropes that controlled the belt and therefore the gymnast.’
Lemke continued: ‘He would take girls by the shoulders, squeeze hard enough to leave marks, shake them and yell directly into their face.
‘There was specifically one time where he picked up the vault hand mat and hit me with it because I couldn’t get my vault right that day and this was already after I had crashed into the vault hard enough to bruise and bleed.’
In July 2019, Sara Teristi, who met Nassar as a young teen in Michigan in late 1988, came forward in a bombshell TIME excerpt from Abigail Pesta’s book The Girls: An All-American Town, a Predatory Doctor, and the Untold Story of the Gymnasts Who Brought Him Down, implicating Geddert
In July 2019, Sara Teristi, who met Nassar as a young teen in Michigan in late 1988, came forward in a bombshell TIME excerpt from Abigail Pesta’s book The Girls: An All-American Town, a Predatory Doctor, and the Untold Story of the Gymnasts Who Brought Him Down, implicating Geddert.
Teristi, who is now in her 40s, said that when she was 16 and suffering from a hairline fracture to her tailbone, Nassar penetrated her anally with his hands under the guise of performing a medical procedure.
Teristi says Geddert saw some of the abuse but failed to act, instead maintaining a close personal and professional relationship with the soft-spoken doctor over several decades.
In one instance, according to Teristi, Geddert was present in the medical room while Nassar applied an ice pack to the bare chest of the then-14-year-old gymnast and began playing with her nipples.
Rather than putting a halt to the abuse, Geddert is said to have made jokes about the size of the young girl’s chest and allowed the sexual assault to continue freely.
‘They would stand there and have a conversation right in front of me,’ she said.
‘John [Geddert] would joke about how small my “t***” were. He said if I was lucky, they would get bigger.’
She also claims Geddert straddled her ‘in a sexual way’ after she returned from injury and landed on her hands and knees.
Geddert opened Twistars in Lansing, Michigan, with his wife Kathryn Irene Geddert, 62, back in June 1996. Pictured together
The couple have three children. Kathryn sold the gym in earlier this month and it is being renamed Capital City Flips
Two days before her husband’s suicide, Kathryn shared this message on social media from a coaching company about a job being a ‘self-portrait’ of the worker
‘He was sitting on my back, riding me in a sexual way,’ she claimed. ‘He said, “Ooh, baby, you like it like that!”‘
Nassar, who was a doctor at Michigan State University, has been sentenced to decades in prison for sexually assaulting gymnasts at the school and elsewhere as well as possessing child pornography.
During Nassar’s sentencing, a woman said Geddert was aware in the late 1990s that Nassar had performed an ‘inappropriate procedure’ on her when she was 16.
A prosecutor read that accuser’s anonymous statement in court.
The gymnastic coach was investigated twice by Michigan State Police – once in 2011 and again in 2013. In 2011, he was said to have gotten into an argument with an employee while he was investigated for assaulting a gymnast in 2013.
During the Nassar scandal, Geddert was suspended by Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics in January 2018 and announced his retirement the following day. He has been under investigation since.
On his LinkedIn page, Geddert described himself as the ‘most decorated women’s gymnastics coach in Michigan gymnastics history.’ He said his Twistars teams had won 130 club championships.
In 2012, he coached the US women’s gymnastics team to a gold medal in the London Summer Games.
Geddert opened Twistars in Lansing, Michigan, with his wife Kathryn Irene Geddert, 62, back in June 1996.
The gym was sued by more than 140 women and girls who alleged that he failed to protect them from Nassar.
In 2018, when Geddert retired as allegations of abuse surfaced and he was suspended from USA Gymnastics, he transferred the ownership of Twistars to Kathryn.
Kathryn sold the gym in earlier this month and it is being renamed Capital City Flips.
The couple have three children together.
Two days before her husband’s suicide, Kathryn posted a message on social media from a coaching company about a job being a ‘self-portrait’ of the worker.
‘Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your work with excellence,’ it read.