“These coaches and doctors, in the case of Larry Nassar, they have enormous power and control over these kids,” Ms. Robb said, referring to the disgraced former U.S. national team doctor who abused hundreds of girls and women. “The promise of a gold medal is quite a carrot.”
The mere fact of charging Mr. Geddert with human trafficking could have ramifications for the broader sports world, beyond just gymnastics, experts said.
“That puts coaches and trainers on notice about how they’re treating their athletes,” Professor Jordan said.
The word “trafficking” may elicit images of movement from place to place, but transportation is not a required component of trafficking, Ms. Robb said.
“It’s a misnomer,” she said. “You do not need to transport someone for it to be considered trafficking.”
Human trafficking often is confused with human smuggling, which is a different criminal activity. While trafficking centers on exploitation, smuggling mainly involves the transportation of an individual or the use of fraudulent documents to gain illegal entry into a country.
On Friday, a spokesman for Dana Nessel, the Michigan attorney general, said Ms. Nessel’s office was not continuing with its investigation into Mr. Geddert.