“Like many of you, we had hoped that the criminal charges brought against [Geddert] would lead to some degree of resolution and justice,” Leung said during a conference call with reporters in advance of the first USA Gymnastics competition of 2021, this weekend’s Winter Cup in Indianapolis. “It goes without saying that this news brings up a lot of complex emotions from many in the community, particularly those he hurt. And our thoughts are with them.”
But asked about the need for an independent investigation into the organization’s handling of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal — as Olympic champions Aly Raisman and Simone Biles have called for — Leung said USA Gymnastics has fully cooperated with six independent investigations on the matter and pledged continued cooperation with any investigations to come.
Geddert, who led the gold medal-winning 2012 U.S. Olympic women’s team, was a longtime associate and former employer of Nassar’s, and his suicide prompted Raisman to reiterate her call on social media for an independent investigation of USA Gymnastics’ handling of years of cases of abuse.
“We understand that yesterday’s events were very tragic, very emotional for many people who were affected by it,” Leung said. “Now, to date, we have been a part of six independent investigations, some of which are still ongoing right now. We are very committed to learning from the past and are hoping for these investigations to be able to wrap up and provide some closure for those who have been affected.”
Leung said she could not cite three of those investigations under terms dictated by the investigative bodies. The others, she said, were conducted by the Indianapolis attorney general’s office; law enforcement in Walker County, Tex.; and law firm Ropes & Gray, which was hired by the U.S. Olympic Committee and concluded in 2018 that USA Gymnastics and the USOC failed to protect gymnasts by ignoring, delaying and mishandling credible complaints against Nassar.
Raisman has disputed the independence and depth of such probes, arguing that only a truly independent investigation will answer gymnasts’ lingering questions about culpability and accountability within USA Gymnastics.
Geddert was the personal coach of 2012 Olympian Jordyn Wieber when U.S. women’s national team director Martha Karolyi tapped him as coach of the 2012 U.S. women’s Olympic team.
On Thursday, roughly four hours after he was charged with sexual assault and human trafficking in relation to acts that occurred at the Michigan gym he owned and ran for decades, Geddert was reported dead by suicide. He was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon.
Raisman posted comments on Twitter on Thursday night, explaining that as a minor she often had to travel to competitions without her parents and under the supervision of Geddert, Nassar and former USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny, who also faces criminal charges in connection to the organization’s handling of the Nassar scandal.
Raisman wrote: “For an organization that has claimed for the past 15+ years that ‘athlete safety is the No. 1 priority,’ it’s impossible to imagine a greater failure. ... Why is there still no independent investigation? How many more children have to suffer?”
On Friday, in the wake of Geddert’s death, Rosemarie Aquilina, the judge who presided over Nassar’s January 2018 sentencing hearing and gave each of his victims the opportunity to read a personal statement and confront him in court, addressed the issue of suicide and its effect on sexual assault victims. As many of Nassar’s victims made clear in her courtroom, they continue to suffer deep psychological wounds from his abuse. Some among them suffered physical and emotional abuse from Geddert as well.
“Sadly suicide is a way of controlling & silencing victims who lose the ability to face him & speak their truth. We also lose the ability to see the justice system work by learning both sides with a fair & impartial jury deciding what the facts are. Everyone loses but Geddert,” Aquilina wrote on Twitter.
Regarding other issues facing the beleaguered governing body, Leung said Friday that USA Gymnastics continues to work on reaching an equitable financial settlement with Nassar’s victims, noting that the process had been slowed by coronavirus protocols limiting the face-to-face interaction that is central to mediation.
She said she expected the governing body to emerge from bankruptcy this summer. While settling victims’ claims is not a prerequisite for emerging from bankruptcy, Leung noted, the organization would prefer to do that first.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741.