An American former Olympics gymnastics coach has been found dead hours after he was charged with human trafficking and abuse of athletes in his care.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement: "My office has been notified that the body of John Geddert was found late this afternoon after taking his own life.
"This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved."
Hours earlier, she had announced a 24-count criminal complaint against Mr Geddert, who owned an elite training facility near Lansing in Michigan, where convicted sex offender Larry Nassar served as the gym doctor.
In addition to two sexual assault charges involving an unnamed athlete between the ages of 13 and 16, 20 counts of human trafficking and forced labour were the result of Mr Geddert's alleged coercive and abusive coaching practices "as he reportedly subjected his athletes to forced labour or services under extreme conditions that contributed to them suffering injuries and harm".
Prosecutors said: "Geddert then neglected those injuries that were reported to him by the victims and used coercion, intimidation, threats and physical force to get them to perform to the standard he expected."
Ms Nessel had said at a press conference streamed on social media yesterday that Mr Geddert, 63, was expected to surrender to authorities on Thursday afternoon to be arraigned on the charges.
However, Michigan State Police said that his body was found at a highway rest area outside Lansing later in the day.
Police said investigations were ongoing and that no further details were being released at this time.
Mr Geddert coached the US women's gymnastics team to gold at the 2012 London Olympics.
He came under scrutiny because of his close personal and professional relationship with Nassar, the former US national team doctor sentenced to life in prison over the sexual abuse of multiple young female gymnasts over almost three decades under the guise of medical treatment.
A personal coach to US gymnast, Jordyn Wieber, and owner of the Twistars training facility, Mr Geddert was accused by many Nassar victims of requiring them to be treated by the disgraced doctor, who was convicted of multiple sexual assault charges and finally jailed in a federal prison in 2018.
USA Gymnastics suspended Geddert in 2018, the year after he insisted he had "zero knowledge" of Nassar's crimes, and he immediately retired.
Rachael Denhollander, a former gymnast who in 2016 was the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual assault, tweeted that Geddert's abusive behaviour was widely known as early as 2000.
"Geddert's abuse, like so much, was never a secret. EVER," she tweeted.
"In my memoir I wrote about knowing of it even as a club level gymnast in 2000.
"Because we have to grapple with the reality that it was known, and no one stopped him. It was known, and he was promoted and given more power."
Geddert's abuse, like so much, was never a secret. EVER.— Rachael Denhollander (@R_Denhollander) February 25, 2021
In my memoir I wrote about knowing of it even as a club level gymnast in 2000. Because we have to grapple with the reality that it was known, and no one stopped him. It was known, and he was promoted and given more power. https://t.co/CVmb8kDWr7
In three weeks of sentencing hearings for Nassar, in which some 200 women, girls and victims' families confronted him, Twistars gymnasts said they had endured physical and verbal abuse by Geddert.
Prosecutors stressed yesterday that the only charge against Mr Geddert specifically linked to Nassar was that of lying to authorities when asked whether he knew the doctor was sexually abusing athletes.
Otherwise, they said, "the crimes alleged against Mr Geddert are his own.
"These allegations focus on multiple acts of verbal, physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by the defendant against multiple victims," Ms Nessel said of charges stemming from incidents between 2008 and 2018.
"I am grateful for these survivors coming forward to cooperate with our investigation and for bravely sharing their stories."
Mr Geddert was also charged with racketeering, with prosecutors alleging he trafficked 15 athletes for financial gain and with lying to authorities investigating Nassar.
Michigan's Attorney General acknowledged that the forced labour-human trafficking charges "have not typically been used and applied to the set of circumstances that I think exist in this case".
But, she said, months of reviewing case law convinced prosecutors they were applicable.
"The victims suffer from disordered eating, including bulimia and anorexia, suicide attempts and self-harm," adding that Mr Geddert subjected his gymnasts to "excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform even while injured, extreme emotional abuse and physical abuse, including sexual assault".