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Team Thema: No comment; Gymnast focuses on TTGF battle as former doctor jailed for up to 175 years

Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams will not comment on the sex scandal that has engulfed her former United States coach John Geddert and his Twistars USA Gymnastics Club doctor Larry Nassar.

Geddert, who coached USA’s gold medal-winning London 2012 Olympics team, was Williams’ coach in the lead-up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games while the Tots and Tumblers gymnast was also based at Twistars in Michigan for at least a year. Nassar was the club’s doctor at the time.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (right) and her coach John Geddert in 2015.

Today, US Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Nassar to between 40 and 175 years in prison for sexually abusing athletes in his care. The disgraced physician admitted to molesting seven girls; however, a total of 156 girls and women testified to suffering abuse at his hands while two dozen more sent private letters to the court.

Nassar’s youngest victim was just six years old.

“It is my honour to sentence you because, sir, you do no deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again,” said the judge. “Anywhere you walk, destruction would occur to those most vulnerable.”

Geddert, whose social and professional relationship with Nassar spans 25 years, was not directly implicated in the abuse but was suspended by USA Gymnastics pending further investigation.

“John Geddert has been suspended under the interim measures provisions of Section 10.5 of USA Gymnastics’ Bylaws,” stated a release from the US sporting body. “USA Gymnastics is unable to comment further as this is a pending matter.”

Section 10.5 states that interim measures may be imposed “to ensure the safety and well-being of the gymnastics community or where an allegation is sufficiently serious that an Adverse Party’s continued participation could be detrimental to the sport or its reputation.”

Photo: Disgraced former US physician Larry Nassar was sentenced to between 40 to 175 years in jail for having abused over 100 gymnasts.
(Copyright NY Daily News)

Priscilla Kintigh, a former office manager at Twistars, told ESPN that Geddert’s intimidating manner would have made him too unapproachable for abused athletes and, inadvertently or not, might have played a role in the horrific treatment of athletes there.

“John and Larry were like this perfect storm,” said Kintigh, who was coached by Geddert at Great Lakes in the mid-1980s and whose son trained at Twistars. “You become so unapproachable that your own gymnasts don’t feel comfortable telling you what’s going on.

“There’s no way any of the girls would have felt comfortable saying anything to John [about Larry]. Kids were terrified of him.”

Geddert plays a significant role in one of Trinidad and Tobago’s most polarising sport cases after the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) claimed that the coach’s report on Williams spurred its controversial decision to replace the gymnast with rival, Marisa Dick.

Geddert said the TTGF intentionally misinterpreted his correspondence to suit its own ends.

At present, Williams is suing the TTGF, its former president David Marquez, first vice-president Akil Wattley, second vice-president Ricardo Lue Shue and his wife and assistant treasurer Donna Lue Shue for TT$11.3 million for maliciously “depriving [her] of the opportunity to qualify for the 2016 Olympics and/or by wrongfully […] promoting Marisa [Dick] at [her] expense.”

Photo: Then Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation officials (from right) Ricardo Lue Shue, Elicia Peters-Charles and David Marquez pose with Sport Minister Darryl Smith (second from right) prior to the Rio 2016 Olympics.
(Courtesy Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)

Williams is represented by advocate attorney Keith Scotland, instructing attorney Reza Ramjohn and Martin Daly SC. Attorney Justin Junkere is representing the TTGF while Marquez, Wattley and the Lue Shues are defended by Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC and Ronnie Bissessar.

Williams has been advised not to comment on the US matter by her attorneys as they prepare for a pre-trial review next week. Both parties are believed to have exchanged witness statements and “Team Thema” expect a trial timetable to be set soon.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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60 comments

    • the thing is that the manoeuvres he quotes ARE legit…
      but when you have your hand inside a vagina, you WAYYY offf!
      roll the tape:


    • yeah jed. i saw some chiropractic manoeuvres for some reallll mad scenes—and THEY SEEM TO HAVE WORKED!
      mi first encounter with one was late 90s in a Tour of Martinique, and there was a guy helping out cyclists and some of the Tour outriders before races…and lemme tell you the guy was GOOD!
      NOT A SINGLE VAGINA OR ANUS WAS PENETRATED BY AN UNGLOVED DIGIT!
      and to me THAT is a key here!
      WHO is seeing their kid get a “treatment” and then doesnt ask: “Did he touch you funny?”
      Which parent does that???
      come nah mannnn….some of these mommys and daddies need to get jail too yes hoss!

  1. Thema may be a possible victim. Who knows. She is taking the advice of her attorneys -who told him her not to comment. I don’t see how bashing Niki or Thema will change any thing.

  2. Actually the man in the pic with Thema is not the doctor he is the coach. According to the article because of his personality he was unapproachable hence the athletes were probably afraid to approach him with the issue. Nonetheless he was suspended pending further investigation. Hmmm! Reading is important.

  3. From the comments clearly people didn’t read the article properly

  4. This is so sad… watchin this pic with both of them. knowin what i kn now…. hmm…. i hope nt…real sad…. my heart goes out to all who had to deal with so much hurt n pain

  5. Why is Thema on trial here? Who committed an offence? Her or the doctor? I also fail to see where the jabs at Ms. Crosby is prudent to the case already tried and sentencing attributed. Further to this we don’t know whether or not privately evidence was given if any offence against her was committed. It still remains her right to say or not to say on the matter as many times all too often statements and sound bytes are changed to suit an audience.

  6. Why would you put her in that position?

    • What position, pray tell. I hope you are not inferring that if a crime or criminal act has been perpetrated against a citizen she should remain silent. Because if you do you should aquaint yourself with the police mantra. “If you see something, say something.

    • You are just being ignorant. The man has been convicted. He will never see the outside of a prison. She does not need to come forward. Am sure lots of victims have not come forward

    • To be clear, nobody knows if she was or was not a victim. She is a national gymnast and it turns out that her coaching staff were not on the up and up. So it is natural and responsible that we ask if she had issues. If we didn’t, then we wouldn’t care about her wellbeing.
      She says that, for legal reasons, she’d rather not discuss it at this point in time and we respect that.

    • I hear you but it isn’t the job of women to respond to or explain the bad behaviour of men. What were you looking for? Condemnation? Me too? To what end? Regardless of your intent you must have known what type of insinuation this would have stirred up given the very sensitive nature of the story. My 2 cents-there is no story here just poor/insensitive judgement/timing

    • Thanks for your two cents then.

    • I really don’t understand some women. Several women organizations have challenged women to speak out in cases of abuse against them which I as a man fully support.

      I condemn any acts of abuse whether against women or men, I see it as my duty as a responsible citizen. Yet here you have a woman saying that I am “just being ignorant”. If the use of that term is of the colloquial usage then I take strong umbrage, however if it is the standard English version then you maybe correct as I guess you apparently know me personally and not biblically of course.

      May I also add that the more evidence against this man is what can ensure that “he will never see the outside of a prison” as there is something called Appeal, which even under US law he will then be entitled to bail. By the way how can you be “sure lots of victims have not come forward”. Hmmm, did you say ignorant Karlene Ali. Well I plead guilty. Be blessed and be safe.

  7. No comment she says??? Hmmm! So where is her godmother Nicky Crosby who along with other women exposed their old flabby breast in support of Thema’s top less picture. So why is Thema now afraid to say if she was a victim or not. No one will be against her if she was assaulted so what does she have to be “no comment” about if it will assist in putting her former coach and or his associates behind bars.

    I suppose big mouth Nicky Crosby who shed tears over a big stone on her Hilux has no tears for those hundreds of innocent young gymnasts who were assaulted even as young as years old. I cry shame on those flabby breast women who supported Thema and are now silent as to what may or may not have happened to Thema and possibly ppl she knew. My heart cries out for those innocent victims and hope the perpetrators never see the light of day.

    • Steups. To live with an abuse is difficult as is much less to relive it every time someone feels the need to ask personal questions about it. If she is a victim its for her to decide if she can deal with it being public and out there. Mentally if she is not ready to deal with that if she is in fact a victim who the hell are you to condemn her. Ask yourself if it was your mother or sister and they choose to keep silent. Would you condemn them. After all they are victims. Such a stupid comment why bother to make it. Sexual abuse is not the same as feeling that you are being wronged by an org.

    • Poor you. The minute you start to get personal you have already lost the point. By the way did any one ever tell you that it takes one to know one so I guess you would know the “stupid” ppl around. Bye bye

  8. Quite possible she was a victim, given his professional proximity to her… and just doesn’t wish to be drawn in.

  9. Wonder about the “no comment.” I hope this is for legal reasons only since she has an outstanding matter. I really hope and pray that there is nothing sinister behind it.
    This should be a wake up call for parents of young athletes participating in sports.

  10. I am a major track fan but when there is no track and field, I usually switch to gymnastics, ice-skating and swimming. Most disheartening to recall are these girls readying themselves to compete on the parallel bars or the horse and the beam or the floor competition. With all that sexual trauma on their minds, it must be some sort of unknown strength, a miracle to suppress the abuse, concentrate on what must be done to win, put smiles on their faces, and compete. It takes incredulous strength to pull those exercises off, win or lose. Here is what one of them said to Nasser today: “My parents, who had my best interest at heart, will forever have to live with the fact that they continually brought their daughter to a sexual predator, and were in the room as he assaulted me.”~Marie Anderson, swimmer

  11. What’s sad is that some folk looking in from the outside are quick to chastise the parents failing to understand that these girls are usually abused at tender ages and as they begin to understand what’s happening to them is not right, they are threatened with hardship, family shame, and ridicule by the accused who has the power to renege scholarships, influence the local sports board, the national sports board and the Olympic selection committee etc. The problem is systemic whereby these sporting organizations tend to protect the molesters and dismiss the young girls’ complaints. Heck, these organizations have been found to pay off some of these victims to stay silent and threatened with hefty fines if they should ever make their complaints public. We need solutions to this prolific sexual endemic in sports!

  12. I want to comment so bad. But I don’t know how to properly articulate my thoughts…… I will just say that my hear burns with in me. Lord have mercy! This is just way too close to home.

  13. not meaning to cast aspersions…but Geddert is not the only enabler coach to endanger a TTO athlete.
    we need to focus our scrutiny closer ashore…

  14. Well deserved. Was listening to the testimonies from some of the young ladies in the past week…. can’t help thinking were the parents so blinded by stardom they couldn’t protect their children???

    • You sure you listened to the right trial? Because there’s no way you could have heard what this man did, or how, and yet make that statement about the parents.

    • Yes I did. He is a pedofile…. that’s what they do. The what and the how will be different from situation to situation but the intention is the same. There are always gaping holes in the “system” which these types use to exploit inocente children. Fixing to holes would be the responsibility of the powers that be in whatever organization but as parents our responsibility is the safety and well-being of our children, particularly at the age these girls were exposed. If Dr Nassar was sentenced to 1000 yrs it will change nothing for the victims so I will advocate diligence in prevention.

    • This is not a case where parents were “star struck” and exposed their kids to a pedophile, this was a case of a man in a trusted profession, who was highly recommended for his apparent skill, abusing the trust placed in him. Oftentimes with the parents right there in the room and not realizing what was happening.

    • That solidifies my point. If he was some creepy guy sitting in the kids play park, the parents would not allow interactions. They exposed their kids because he was a – trusted professional, who was highly recommended so he could have carried on even while parents had access. It’s not about blaming the parents but an experience we should learn from and make us more aware

    • You think that ‘solidifies’ your position that “the parents (were) so blinded by stardom they couldn’t protect their children”?

      Okay.

    • Parents were in the room. The man jus put a towel over the girls and do he thing under the guise of medical exam. How they supposed to know what goin on? Most of the girls themselves say it sinking in to them too cause they were too young to understand

  15. Ah wonder if any girls in our sweet country has ever been molested by the coachs the same in any of the sports, especially the football. Hmmmmnnnmm. Them really good yes.