Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Thursday her office has taken over the investigation of John Geddert, a former US Olympic coach and onetime owner of an elite Michigan gymnastics club with ties to Larry Nassar.
Career prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark will lead the investigation, Nessel said.
Last year, USA Gymnastics suspended Geddert, owner of the Twistars Gymnastics Club, one of the locations where Nassar – a disgraced former gymnastics physician sentenced to up to 175 years for decades of abuse – had admitted to abusing young female athletes sexually.
Eaton County Undersheriff Jeffrey Cook announced in February 2018 that Geddert was the subject of an investigation after people came to authorities with complaints about the former coach. His office wouldn’t comment on the type of complaints, type of investigation or how many people had come forward.
After discussions with Eaton County’s prosecuting attorney, Nessel said Thursday that taking over the Geddert investigation “made sense” because of her office’s relationship with Nassar’s victims.
The investigation will include what Geddert may have known about Nassar’s crimes as well as unspecified allegations against Geddert himself, Kelly Rossman-McKinney, a spokeswoman for Nessel, told CNN.
“I would say any and all potential crimes are being investigated,” Nessel told reporters.
Nessel said she didn’t have a “firm number” on potential victims.
Nassar, the once-renowned doctor for USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University and Twistars, has admitted to using his position as a trusted doctor to abuse young girls sexually under the guise of providing medical treatment. Some of the girls he pleaded guilty to abusing were members at Twistars.
At a news conference, Nessel also urged Michigan State to be more cooperative with investigators, particularly in turning over documents the university claims are privileged. She said the university initially withheld 7,500 documents under attorney-client privilege and her office may never see about 6,000 of those documents.
“I would say it’s time for Michigan State University to do the right thing,” she told reporters. “Our goal here is to provide justice and also to provide a sense of security in that something like this will never and can never happen again.”
There was no immediate comment from Geddert or Michigan State. CNN has reached out to Geddert’s attorney for comment.
Nessel said her office was seeking an interview with former Michigan State interim President John Engler, who resigned last month after making controversial remarks about the girls and young women who were Nassar’s victims.
“Full and complete cooperation of MSU frankly continues to be a challenge and the irony, of course, is that the (university) trustees themselves are the ones who asked for the investigation, and yet they have made the work of our department extraordinarily difficult,” the attorney general said.
Nessel also gave an update on the her predecessor’s seizure of records from every Catholic diocese in the state as part of a look into possible sexual abuse by clergy. She drew parallels between the Michigan State and church abuse investigations. She said hundreds of thousands of documents seized in the clergy abuse investigation were still being reviewed.
“The clergy abuse investigation is jarringly similar to the MSU investigation, in that both institutions, when confronted with a public sex abuse scandal, publicly pledge their cooperation with law enforcement authorities, but have failed to deliver on those public promises,” she said.
Attorney John Manly, who represents more than 100 Nassar victims, welcomed the state takeover of the Geddert investigation, saying his clients have grown frustrated with local prosecutors.
“There needs to be a thorough investigation,” he said in a statement. “Nassar abused girls at Geddert’s gym day in and day out. Nassar’s survivors have alleged Geddert was aware of it.”
Geddert coached the 2012 US Olympic women’s gymnastics team dubbed the Fierce Five. Four members of that team, including Jordyn Wieber, have said Nassar abused them. Geddert was Wieber’s personal coach. He was also the women’s coach at the 2011 World Championships.
Even after USA Gymnastics fired Nassar in the summer of 2015 – and Michigan State dismissed him the following year – Geddert continued to support him. In September 2016, Geddert was quoted as saying Nassar is “an extremely professional physician” who “goes above and beyond” for his gymnasts.
In 2013, USA Gymnastics received a letter from a former Twistars coach detailing complaints of verbal and physical abuse by Geddert, CNN reported last year. The letter said Geddert “coaches and lives in a narcissistic manner” and “should not be allowed to coach gymnastics.”
The governing body for US gymnastics did not suspend Geddert until 2018 when his name came up during the victim impact statements at Nassar’s sentencing.
One gymnast told the court Geddert deserved to “sit behind bars, right next to Larry;” another called Geddert an “enabler,” and a third said he was “physically abusive.”
Nassar and Geddert worked together for nearly 20 years.
CNN’s Jean Casarez contributed to this report.