USA Gymnastics is a moral sewer, continued:
The sexual abuse crisis that has shaken American gymnastics deepened on Thursday when a coach of the 2012 women’s Olympic team was charged with human trafficking and sexually assaulting a teenage girl, before killing himself a short time later.
The charges against the coach and gym owner, John Geddert, once again highlighted the dark side of the marquee Olympic sport that was revealed in the investigation and conviction of Lawrence G. Nassar, the former United States national team doctor, who abused hundreds of girls and women.
The Geddert case grew out of the Nassar investigation and Mr. Geddert was suspended by U.S.A. Gymnastics in 2018 after being accused of abuse. Soon after, he announced his retirement from the Twistars gymnastics club in Dimondale, Mich., the gym he owned.
The accusations against Mr. Geddert, 63, revealed a previously unreported level of abuse at the hands of a coach who helped the 2012 team to a gold medal and had worked closely with Mr. Nassar. It is also now clear that Mr. Nassar’s crimes were far from an aberration in the sport known for its grace, beauty and athletes performing daring physical feats.
I thought this was an interesting and creative choice by the prosecutor:
Ms. Nessel had planned a new legal strategy in charging Mr. Geddert with human trafficking. The term refers not only to sexual exploitation but to coerced labor of any kind, and Ms. Nessel charged that Geddert had “subjected his athletes to forced labor or services under extreme conditions that contributed to them suffering injuries and harm.” The charge was added in an effort designed to stop coaches and other people in power in gymnastics from abusing young athletes who might be too intimidated or frightened to speak out.
John Manly, a lawyer for victims of Mr. Geddert and Mr. Nassar, said the human trafficking charges could deter other coaches from abusing, or continuing to abuse, their athletes.
“It’s an important step in child protection,” Mr. Manly said in a phone interview. “It tells the other John Gedderts that if you do this, you will be held accountable.”
Ouleye Ndoye, who serves on the board of directors of Wellspring Living, a shelter based in Atlanta for people who have been trafficked, said she thought the alleged crimes fit the “force, fraud and coercion” elements that define trafficking.
There should always be some concern when prosecutors apply prhobitions to new areas, but not only is the non-sexual abuse of young athletes very bad in itself, it can also facilitate sexual abuse — the mistreatment of young athletes was critical to Nassar’s efforts to groom them, for example. It should be taken more seriously.