Gymnasts, parents react to death of former coach John Geddert

Police confirmed that Geddert killed himself hours after 24 felony charges were filed, including human trafficking

Geddert killed himself after 24 felony charges were filed against him.
Geddert killed himself after 24 felony charges were filed against him.

DIMONDALE, Mich. – After news that former gymnastics coach John Geddert killed himself Thursday, gymnasts and parents are speaking out.

Hours before his death, 24 felony charges were filed against Geddert, including 20 counts of human trafficking, six of them involving a minor.

“My initial reaction was to complete disbelief. And then it was sadness and anger,” said Emily Meinke.

READ: Hours after being charged with 24 felonies, former gymnastics coach John Geddert kills himself

Meinke was coached by Geddert at a young age at Great Lakes Gymnastics. She started going to Larry Nassar at age 8 and the abuse began at age 11. It lasted for 15 years.

“I do think it was partially his responsibility to know what was going on inside those doors. John and Larry were best friends... I don’t know if that clouded his judgment or if he truly didn’t know. That’s something I think that we’ll never find out,” she said.

Rita Wieber’s daughter Jordyn started winning national championships out of Twistars in 2006 under Geddert, culminating with Olympic gold in London Games in 2012.

READ: Officials say former gymnastics coach John Geddert was expected to be arraigned same day he kills himself

However, the latest scandal reminded Wieber that they were surrounded by criminals at all levels.

“It is just something I would never imagine would be part of this whole gymnastics career that you put your child into and expect it to be a great ride,” she said.

“I just would have thought John would have thought fought for his innocence and so it made me think ‘Okay, maybe he wasn’t innocent.’ Who knows but... I definitely think that there were some punishable things,” Wieber added.

Meinke said, “I do think that it was, in some ways, a cowardly way out of this. I think that he clearly was not able to face the charges, face all of us, face any of the gymnasts that he’s ever wronged in the past.”


About the Author:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.