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Sports Opinion: In death, former Olympic coach John Geddert once again causes harm to the gymnasts he abused

07:07  26 february  2021
07:07  26 february  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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John Geddert had one act of cruelty left.

Hours after Michigan’s attorney general announced two dozen charges against the former U.S. Olympic gymnastics coach, including human trafficking and sexual assault, Geddert died by suicide.

The justice that finally seemed within reach Thursday morning for the girls and young women he’d abused is now gone. So, too, whatever answers he could have provided about how sexual predator Larry Nassar was able to operate in plain sight all those years.

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“This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved,” Dana Nessel, Michigan’s attorney general, said in a statement.

For the girls and young women for whom justice will be forever denied, it’s also gut-wrenching. Incomprehensible. Infuriating.

Of the more than 500 women who have said they were sexually abused by Nassar, the longtime team physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State, very few were Olympians or elite-level athletes. Most were ordinary girls and teenagers who simply loved gymnastics. Geddert enabled their abuse, they have said, providing Nassar with an office at his Twistars gym where he could “treat” gymnasts.

For almost five years now, they have asked what Geddert knew and what he saw. What didn’t concern him and what he chose to ignore.

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But only one of the 24 charges filed against Geddert on Thursday morning was related to Nassar, a count of lying to police. The rest were the result of his own alleged monstrosities. The physical, verbal, emotional and, in the case of one teenager, sexual abuse that drove the gymnasts who’d been entrusted to his care to starve themselves, hurt themselves and, in some cases, try to end their lives.

“These charges against Mr. Geddert are for his actions and his alone," assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark said. "(The charges are about) his behavior in his gym related to his coaching."

GYMNASTICS DEATHS: Geddert not only ex-Olympic coach to die by suicide

Geddert was charged with 20 counts of human trafficking, with Nessel alleging that his excessive training was the equivalent of forced labor that resulted in injury to 19 athletes, all of whom were minors. There were also two counts of sexual abuse, one first-degree and one second-degree, involving an athlete who was between 13 and 16 years old.

Olympics gymnastics coach kills himself after being charged

  Olympics gymnastics coach kills himself after being charged LANSING, Mich. — A former U.S. Olympics gymnastics coach with ties to disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar killed himself Thursday, hours after being charged with turning his Michigan gym into a hub of human trafficking by coercing girls to train and then abusing them. John Geddert faced 24 charges that could have carried years in prison had he been convicted. He was supposed to appear in an Eaton County court, near Lansing, but his body was found at a rest area along Interstate 96, according to state police. "This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

John Geddert talking on a cell phone: Coach John Geddert at the American Cup gymnastics meet at Madison Square Garden on March 3, 2012. © Kathy Willens, AP Coach John Geddert at the American Cup gymnastics meet at Madison Square Garden on March 3, 2012.

The last charge against Geddert was for racketeering. The fame and renown brought to his gym by those athletes he pushed so relentlessly and treated so harshly, prosecutors alleged, resulted in financial gain for Geddert.

A trial, or even discovery, could have provided answers from Geddert that the women have long sought. It also was a means of holding him to account, a way to show the man who stripped them of their self-esteem and self-worth that he no longer had power over them.

In death, Geddert didn’t just evade responsibility. He stole one last thing from the women from whom he’d already taken so much.

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Opinion: In death, former Olympic coach John Geddert once again causes harm to the gymnasts he abused

Clear IOC signal: thumbs up for the Olympics in Tokyo .
The message addressed by the IOC session to world sport and athletes was unmistakable: Despite the pandemic, the Olympic Games in Tokyo will open on July 23 at 8 p.m. local time. "It will be a heartbreaking moment for Japan and the whole world," said Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, on Thursday. © imago images IOC President Thomas Bach and Olympia OK President Seiko Hashimoto "We can still say that these are the best-prepared games of all time." - John Coates, Head

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