This story contains strong language and mature subject matter. She remembers feeling strange as he walked in and handed her gymnastics magazines to read as she lay fully naked in his bathtub.
She was 12 or 13; she can't recall exactly. Nassar, no older than 30 and putting the finishing touches on his medical degree, had called Jane's mother days before, explaining he was doing research about gymnasts' flexibility and wanted her daughter's help. On the day Jane was to participate, her mother was out of town, so a neighbor dropped her off, alone, at Nassar's one-bedroom apartment a few blocks from the Michigan State University campus.
Once inside, Nassar had Jane do splits on his living room floor while she wore a gymnastics leotard. After Nassar said she should take a hot bath as part of the study's metrics, Jane got dressed in her leotard and did splits a second time. Then, she says, Nassar gave her what he called "her reward. Once again, she was naked. The encounter didn't strike her as threatening; to the contrary, she recalls, she "felt special.
Can I really get away with sexually abusing little girls? The former gymnast, who spoke to Outside the Lines on the condition of anonymity to protect her family's privacy, agreed to be identified using only a pseudonym. She is one of the more than women suing Nassar, his former employer Michigan State University, and other entities claiming she was sexually assaulted under the guise of medical treatment.
Starting Tuesday, many of those women will share their stories in a Michigan courtroom. Nassar, now 54, pleaded guilty in November to 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with victims as young as 6 years old.
The presiding judge will allow dozens of women or their advocates to issue victim-impact statements before she will decide his prison sentence. That sentence could be added to the 60 years in prison he received last month after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges. Understanding how Nassar gained unfettered access to young girls and young women over the course of a quarter-century -- despite repeated warning signs -- means confronting an uncomfortable truth: He didn't gain that access alone.
Nassar was surrounded by a collection of adults who enabled his predatory behavior -- a group that included coaches of club, collegiate and elite-level gymnasts, the USA Gymnastics organization, medical professionals, administrators and coaches at Michigan State University, and gymnasts' parents, whom he groomed just as effectively as those he violated. Now that so much of the Nassar tragedy has been exposed, a lingering question remains: Were each of those enablers complicit or simply conned by a man described as a master manipulator?
John Geddert, who coached the U. Olympics gymnastics team in London, spent more than two decades working alongside Nassar. When John was in a good mood or playful or approved of you it was like a drug, you wanted more of it," Jane says about her training with him as a girl.
Nassar, by comparison, was socially awkward, even "nerdy," she says. But still, "like a Labrador puppy, the sweetest guy. They worked the Olympics together. Geddert was in Nassar's wedding party when Nassar got married in East Lansing in They attended each other's house parties and traveled the country and, later, the world together at competitions.
They vouched for each other when faced with career-threatening circumstances. The two men were joined at Great Lakes Gymnastics by a mutual friend, Kathie Klages, who worked at the club for five years before leaving to become head coach of the women's gymnastics team at Michigan State University. Together, Klages and Geddert coached some of the area's best gymnasts, many of whom later competed in Spartan green.
Nassar was there to treat them when their bodies broke down. Geddert's coaching style was largely based on fear and intimidation, according to Jane and dozens of others who spoke with Outside the Lines over the past year, a group that includes current and former gymnasts, parents of gymnasts, coaches who have worked alongside Geddert, and other gym employees. Many of those contacted said they were reluctant to speak publicly about Geddert because they either have children involved in gymnastics in the Lansing area or careers in the sport and they are mindful of the power he wields.
Geddert joined Great Lakes as head coach in and helped build the gym into a national powerhouse. In the workout area, he frequently could be overheard screaming at his gymnasts, reducing many to tears. He routinely denied gymnasts water until they performed exercises to his satisfaction, former gymnasts say.
He can make you feel like nothing very quickly," says a former office manager of Geddert's at Twistars, Priscilla Kintigh, who was coached by Geddert at Great Lakes in the mids and whose son trained at Twistars. Parents were allowed to observe practices from the galleries at Great Lakes and later Twistars but, given the long hours, most preferred to drop their children off, entrusting them to Geddert and his fellow coaches.
In the hyper-competitive environment in which the fiery head coach lorded over the gym, Nassar's training room at Great Lakes offered an escape, former gymnasts told Outside the Lines.
It was tucked behind the vault and balance beam, through a heavy metal door with a single small window that Nassar often covered with a sheet while treating gymnasts. A parent would have had to walk across the entire workout floor to get to the training room, and few ever did. Jane, the former gymnast, remembers being alone with Nassar on multiple occasions, lying on his training-room table as he penetrated her rectum with his bare fingers, ostensibly to treat her injured back.
She can't recall the precise dates of those sessions but said they occurred around the same time she visited his apartment, in , when she was 12 or 13 years old. She never told her parents or anyone else at the time about what happened with Nassar, who wasn't yet a physician. He never sought parental consent. Nassar, after all, was "the good cop" to Geddert's bad cop, the smiling trainer who helped gymnasts decompress from the pressure-cooker environment Geddert created outside of the training room door.
There's no way any of the girls would have felt comfortable saying anything to John [about Larry]. Kids were terrified of him. By then, Nassar was an accomplished athletic trainer who had volunteered at the Pan American Games and Olympic gymnastics trials, treating members of the U. Nassar volunteered at Great Lakes about 20 hours a week, a demanding schedule for a medical student.
He once failed a biochemistry exam after he'd worked a weekend gymnastics competition. With his future in doubt, it was Geddert who came to Nassar's aid, writing a letter to the dean of Michigan State's College of Osteopathic Medicine, saying he wouldn't allow Nassar back in his gym until he completed medical school.
Nassar was ultimately readmitted at MSU and told he could complete his degree in five years rather than four. His absence from Great Lakes lasted a month. In the years that followed, Nassar and Geddert rose to greater prominence within the gymnastics world. In , Nassar became national medical coordinator for the sport's governing body, USA Gymnastics, a position that made him part of an iconic Olympic moment that same year: He frequently impressed young gymnasts in and around Lansing with ribbons and posters he'd bring to them as gifts from his travels to international competitions.
Geddert would go on to become the most decorated women's gymnastics coach in state history, coaching more than 50 U. Wieber did not respond to ESPN's requests for comment.
Geddert served as head coach of the women's team at the London Games. In recent months, three members of that team, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas, have alleged that they, too, were sexually assaulted by Nassar under the guise of medical treatment. Maroney says Nassar abused her when he was alone with her in Texas and in Tokyo. In the months before and after the London Olympics, Geddert's temper threatened his career.
He was accused of assault and battery in two separate incidents at Twistars, according to police reports obtained by Outside the Lines.
In the first incident, reported in November , the parent of a Twistars gymnast, who also worked at the club as a coach, told state police that during a heated argument after an evening practice, Geddert followed her into the parking lot and physically assaulted her by stepping on her foot and chest bumping her to prevent her from leaving. In the second incident, a year later, a gymnast told police Geddert "stepped on her toe, grabbed her arm and pushed her into the wall" to discipline her, according to a police report.
Geddert, who told police the year-old "got her ass chewed," denied the allegations of assault and did not face charges in either case. Shortly after the second alleged incident, the girl's grandmother received a series of text messages from an unexpected source -- Larry Nassar. He pleaded with her not to file charges against Geddert. Remember this is not just about John but also effects [sic] every family at the gym. Just as he had years earlier at Great Lakes Gymnastics, Nassar saw hundreds of girls on his training table in a back room at Twistars, alone.
Parents would sign up their children to see Nassar on Monday evenings and often wait more than two hours for a chance to be treated by him. Dozens of former Twistars gymnasts now say Nassar sexually abused them during those medical exams. In the spring and summer of , USA Gymnastics paid Don Brooks, a Lansing private detective, to investigate the history of complaints against Geddert.
Among others, Brooks interviewed the former Twistars gymnast who alleged Geddert assaulted her in the locker room, the girl's grandmother said. When reached by phone, Brooks declined to comment about his findings, which he turned over to USA Gymnastics in September It's unclear what happened to the investigation; USA Gymnastics declined to comment.
Nassar was well aware of the way Geddert worked with gymnasts. What's not clear, even today, is how much Geddert knew about Nassar's serial sexual abuse. On at least one occasion, Geddert walked into the back room of Twistars while Nassar was digitally penetrating a young gymnast, according to the woman's court testimony: His attorney did not respond to requests for comment.
Two former Michigan State gymnasts say they told ex-MSU coach Kathie Klages, pictured, in that Nassar had improperly touched them during medical treatments.
But Nassar was arguably one of the most accessible doctors in and around East Lansing, too. He saw patients at the sports medicine clinic on the Michigan State University campus, where he worked full time, as a volunteer at Great Lakes Gymnastics and later Twistars, and at Holt High School, not far from his home. He saw girls after hours, at his home, to accommodate parents' schedules.
He followed many of the girls he saw as patients on social media, often commenting on their posts. In the fall of , Nassar treated young gymnasts in the basement of Michigan State's Jenison Fieldhouse. That's where he met Larissa Boyce. Nassar also treated MSU gymnasts and other athletes. Boyce told Outside the Lines that Nassar penetrated her dozens of times, explaining the first time he did the procedure that he needed to massage her pelvic muscles in order to treat her injured back.
During one such visit, he removed his belt, dimmed the lights and appeared to become sexually aroused, Boyce says. A second Spartan Youth gymnast, 14 at the time, says she also had been digitally penetrated by Nassar over the course of several appointments.
She and Boyce say that in late , they told Klages what was happening during their sessions with Nassar. Says the second former gymnast: And it wasn't that sense at all of getting help.
It was more a sense of, 'Who have you told so far?