Monday, September 21, 2020

CNN report details abuse allegations against former Twistars owner

April 4, 2018
Jordyn Wieber of the United States received a hug from her coach, John Geddert, left, in the women's floor exercises apparatus finals at North Greenwich Arena during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England, Tuesday, August 7, 2012. Wieber finished seventh in the competition. Photo courtesy David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/MCT
Jordyn Wieber of the United States received a hug from her coach, John Geddert, left, in the women's floor exercises apparatus finals at North Greenwich Arena during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England, Tuesday, August 7, 2012. Wieber finished seventh in the competition. Photo courtesy David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/MCT —

CNN released a report on March 30 looking into John Geddert, famed Olympic coach and previous owner of Twistars Gymnastics Club, and alleged verbal and emotional abuse against gymnasts.

In the report, CNN breaks down detailed accounts of Geddert’s forms of abuse from seven gymnasts and their families, medical records and electronic communications that allegedly document years of his mistreatment against those he coached. 

Each of the gymnasts’ stories have common themes when it comes to the way Geddert allegedly abused them.

All seven gymnasts featured said Geddert repeatedly disregarded their injuries. 

According to the report, of the seven gymnasts, two attempted suicide because of his abuse, one said he injured her so badly it ended her career at 17 years old, another said he failed to get her medical attention after she broke her neck at practice and another said he made her train for nearly a month on a broken leg at age 13.

According to the report, gymnast Makayla Thrush said Geddert told her to kill herself several times and gymnast Brittany Aragon said he would scream he was going to “beat her like a red-headed stepchild” if she didn’t perform her exercises perfectly. 

In addition to the gymnasts’ accounts of their experiences with Geddert, their parents also attested to Geddert’s forms of abuse in the report.

“As parents, of course we’re happy that Larry is behind bars,” Ken Lorencen, father of gymnast Bailey Lorencen, said in the report. “But John needs to go down as hard as Larry did. Sometimes I think he was worse.”

The report also went into detail about ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s relationship with Geddert and the gymnasts he worked with.

Geddert and Nassar were known to be friends, working alongside each other for nearly 20 years. He was in Nassar’s wedding in 1996 and continued to be supportive of him as sexual assault allegations began piling against him.

A year after Nassar’s wedding in 1996, a Twistars parent told Geddert about Nassar’s behavior, alleging sexual abuse, assault and molestation, CNN reports. 

In September 2016, Geddert told The Indianapolis Star Nassar was “an extremely professional physician.”

Several young gymnasts who faced Geddert’s abusive behavior often sought support and comfort from Nassar.

According to messages received and other accounts from parents, Nassar often tried to persuade parents and guardians to not file charges against Geddert for his alleged abuse.

“Ironically, Larry was our safe haven,” Lindsey Lemke, first to speak out against Geddert at Nassar’s sentencing hearing in January, said to CNN.

Geddert is just one of the defendants in ongoing lawsuits against Twistars Gymnastics Club, USA Gymnastics, MSU, the MSU Board of Trustees, William Strampel and others. 

Geddert and Twistars Gymnastics Club filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in January of 2018 but have agreed, along with the other defendants in the lawsuit, to return to mediation, according to a stipulated order filed on March 27.

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