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Who Is John Geddert? New Details On The Gymnastics Coach Close To Larry Nassar Featured In 'At The Heart Of Gold' Documentary On HBO

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Who Is John Geddert? New Details On The Gymnastics Coach Close To Larry Nassar Who Created A Culture Of Abuse And Fear

HBO's new documentary At The Heart Of The Gold: Inside The USA Gymnastics Scandal premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and hit HBO on May 3rd. The film explores the culture of abuse that thrived under Larry Nassar, the team doctor who was accused of more than 150 incidences of sexual abuse of a minor and convicted of seven counts of sexual abuse of minors and will spend the rest of his life in jail. He spent decades as a predator. Many people believe he didn't act alone. Coaches and others around him thrived in the culture of abuse and intimidation inside of USA. One of those complicit people is John Geddert, a coach who trained a number of elite gymnasts including Jordyn Wieber. Geddert was also one of the coaches of the 2012 women's gymnastics Olympics team, which won the gold medal. Who is John Geddert and what role did he play in the Larry Nassar scandal?

1. Intense, strict and abusive

John Geddert is a gymnastics coach. He was named the 2007 Coach of the Year. He was one of two head coaches of the 2012 Women's Gymnastics Olympic team that won the gold medal. A number of former gymnasts have described Geddert's coaching style as intense, strict and abusive. Several former gymnasts said that he repeatedly told them to kill themselves. Geddert frequently threw items in the gym when he was angered. He shoved one gymnast (let's keep in mind how petite female gymnasts are) so hard she had a black eye, ruptured lymph nodes in her neck and tore muscles in her stomach. In 2013, he was under criminal investigation for his treatment of gymnasts. Instead of facing jail time, he was allowed to get counseling. In 2018, after the Larry Nassar verdict, prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into Geddert's treatment of gymnasts. That investigation is ongoing.


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RELATED: Olympic Gymnast Aly Raisman Shares Awful Details Of Alleged Sexual Abuse By Dr. Larry Nassar That Started At Age 13

2. Cruel and deeply abusive

John Geddert founded the Twistars gymnastics training facility in 1996 in Lansing, Michigan. Larry Nassar worked there as a volunteer doctor on Monday nights. Geddert's gymnasts have recounted how he created a culture of fear to keep them obedient and afraid. He has been called cruel and deeply abusive. One former student of Geddert's who preferred to remain anonymous told Lansing, Michigan's 6 News: "He [Geddert] was 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."

3. The investigations into his abuse

Twistars and Geddert were the subjects of investigations long before Larry Nassar's crimes came to light. He was investigated in 2011 and in 2013. In 2011, the investigation kicked off when Geddert reportedly had a physical altercation with an employee. He was accused of stomping on his employee's foot to keep them from leaving. Geddert did not show up for the police interviews. He claimed to be too busy. Prosecutors opted not to file charges. In 2013, a gymnast claimed Geddert attacked her when he became enraged during practice. She said she was shoved against a wall, stomped on and her arm was forcibly grabbed. Geddert was ordered to get counseling and the charges were dropped. 


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RELATED: Who Is Kathie Klages? New Details On Larry Nassar's Former Colleague In "At The Heart Of Gold" Documentary On HBO

4. He denied his athletes food and water

One anonymous former gymnast from Twistars said that she was deprived of food and water. In the summers, the training facility was not air-conditioned. She claims that Geddert's abuse led her to develop an eating disorder at 13. If gymnasts were caught eating before Geddert gave them permission to, they had to "scrub the bathroom floor with our toothbrush." Geddert also allegedly walked into the girls' locker room without warning while the girls were changing. Makayla Thrush trained with Twistars from ages seven to 17. She claims Geddert's physical abuse ended her gymnastics career. She said he threw her on top of a low bar, rupturing the lymph nodes in her neck and tearing muscles in her stomach. She told The Associated Press: "There isn't one bone in my body that doesn't hate John Geddert for everything he has done to me in my career."

5. So many tales of abuse

One former gymnast said: "I was dropped from about 15 feet in the air in a spotting belt because I didn't make the corrections he wanted me to make, landing on my back on a thin mat. I was shoved off the beam when he was mad or pushed, and numerous pieces of mats, water bottles, and ice thrown at me when he was mad ... Even though we cried and asked for him to stop, he wouldn't." Annie Labrie, a former Geddert gymnast said: "Coaching by fear, intimidation and shame and explicit favoritism was the norm. We were conditioned for years to obey at all costs." Some people believe that Geddert was preparing his gymnasts for an industry that is harsh and unforgiving. One of the parents of a gymnast who is a part of the ongoing investigation into Geddert told Michigan Radio: “John's not just some tough coach. He's an abusive, narcissistic pig who finds great joy in tearing little girls apart. And it needs to stop."


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RELATED: 11 Most Powerful Quotes From The Brave Athletes Who Spoke Out Against Abusive Doctor Larry Nassar

6. Did he know about Nassar?

It's not yet known if Geddert knew Larry Nassar sexually assaulted the gymnasts. But Bailey Lorencen, a former gymnast who trained with John Geddert believes he knew exactly what was going on with Nassar. In February 2018, she told The Associated Press: “There is no excuse for you not knowing what was happening in your gym 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 backroom dungeon, hundreds of your athletes were being molested." Geddert also allegedly refused to allow his gymnasts to see doctors other than Nassar. He wouldn't even accept notes from other doctors. 

The investigation into John Geddert's practices and his ties to Larry Nassar is ongoing. He retired as a gymnastics coach in January 2018 when several lawsuits, including one from State Farm Insurance, were taken out against Twistars. He was forced to give up ownership of the gym. USA Gymnastics suspended Geddert and has forbidden him from all contact with gymnasts.

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. She is deeply devoted to her chocolate Labrador and an avid long-distance runner. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.