February 6, 2018 / 8:02 PM / 6 months ago

Former USA gymnastics coach under investigation: Michigan sheriff

(Reuters) - A former coach of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, John Geddert, was under investigation, a sheriff in Michigan said on Tuesday, coming on the heels of a sexual abuse scandal surrounding a team doctor with whom the coach had worked.

Jordyn Wieber (L) of the U.S. hugs with her head Coach John Geddert after winning the women's individual all-around final at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Tokyo October 13, 2011. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office said people had made complaints against John Geddert, without providing details.

Geddert was not immediately available for comment.

A poster of gold medalist Olympic gymnast Jordyn Wieber is seen at the entrance of Gedderts Twistars USA Gymnastics Club in Dimondale, Michigan, U.S., February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry 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.

In January, USA Gymnastics suspended Geddert, who worked with Nassar. The coach was criticized for creating a hostile environment by several victims during Nassar’s sentencing hearings.

Geddert ran a Lansing-area gymnastics center called Twistars, where athletes said Nassar molested them in a back room.

During sentencing hearings for Nassar, nearly 200 victims told the courts about his decades of abuse.

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Former gymnast Annie Labrie, a Nassar victim from Twistars who testified in court, told Reuters that Geddert pushed athletes beyond their breaking points. “He’s screaming at us and telling us we were worthless,” she said.

Bailey Lorencen, who said that Nassar abused her when she was a middle-school gymnast, said in court last week, “John Geddert - you have what’s coming to you. I do not understand how anyone could still want to train there. This is your fault and you are also accountable.”

The case against Nassar has sparked investigations into how U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) officials, USA Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body, and Michigan State University, where Nassar also worked, failed to investigate complaints about him.

The USA Gymnastics board has resigned in the fallout from the Nassar scandal and the president of Michigan State University resigned after facing criticism for not doing enough to stop the abuse by the doctor.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Addiitonal reporting by Joseph Ax in New York

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