Aly Raisman: Gymnastics Team Doctor Was a ‘Master Manipulator’

"I want people to understand that I really didn’t know it was happening to me," Raisman said

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman said the longtime USA Gymnastics team doctor accused of sexually abusing her and dozens of other women was a "master manipulator" who gained her trust with gifts and “brainwashed” her into thinking he had her best interest in mind.

Raisman, the captain of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold-medal winning teams, told "Today" show host Hoda Kobt that she first realized Dr. Larry Nassar had abused her after being interviewed by a USA Gymnastics investigator in 2015.

"I always thought he was weird, but I just thought 'he was weird.' I want people to understand that I really didn’t know it was happening to me. He was a doctor and he was telling me that his treatment would help heal all of my injuries," Raisman said Monday during a "Today" show interview. "I was so young and I had never really worked with another doctor or trainer before and everyone said he was the best."

The Massachusetts native said being treated by Nassar always made her feel uncomfortable and she describes the alleged abused in her new book "Fierce."

"I would lie on the table, my hands involuntarily balling themselves into fists as his ungloved hands worked their way under my clothing. 'Treatment sessions' with him always made me feel tense and uncomfortable," Raisman wrote in the book being released this week.

Raisman is the latest member of the Fierce Five to claim she was sexually abused by Nassar. McKayla Maroney, who won two medals at the 2012 Games as Raisman's teammate, said last month she was molested for years by Nassar.

Nassar is in a Michigan jail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilting to possession of child pornography. He is also awaiting trial on separate sexual criminal sexual conduct charges and has been sued by more than 125 women alleging sexual abuse. Nassar has pleaded not guilty to the assault charges, and the dozens of civil suits filed in Michigan are currently in mediation.

"He's a monster. It’s so disturbing to think about what he did to me and so many other girls," Raisman said Monday.

USA Gymnastics says they were not aware of any abuse by Nassar until allegations surfaced in 2015. The organization said in a statement to "Today" that investigators interviewed several gymnasts, including Raisman, and Nassar was fired as a result.

USA Gymnastics launched an independent review of its policies in the wake of the allegations against Nassar and reporting by the Indianapolis Star in August 2016 that highlighted chronic mishandling of sexual abuse allegations against coaches and staff at some of its more than 3,500 clubs across the country.

Asked if USA Gymnastics did everything that they could to protect athletes, Raisman said "no." The 23-year-old recalled after being interview by the investigator in 2015 that she realized Nassar had abused her and reached out to her sport’s national governing body asking to speak to the detective again.

"I was basically told to keep it quiet and that they were handling it," she said.

Raisman has been highly critical of USA Gymnastics in recent months, calling for leadership change at the top of the organization while advocating for athlete's rights.

"I want to help. I want to do more,” Raisman said. "This is just the beginning. I’m just getting started. And I’m not going to stop until I get what I want, which is change."

Raisman also condemned the public's "victim shaming" of women who have been abused, calling it an "awful" behavior that needs to stop. She writes in her book that she also feared coming forward with her own experience of abuse because "maybe people wouldn’t believe me, or think that I was exaggerating, maybe they would think I was doing it for attention."

"Society makes it hard for women who have been abused to come forward," Raisman said.

In June, the gymnastics board adopted the new USA Gymnastics SafeSport Policy that replaced the previous policy. Key updates include mandatory reporting, defining six types of misconduct, setting standards to prohibit grooming behavior, preventing inappropriate interaction and establishing accountability.

In July, the organization hired Toby Stark, a child welfare advocate, as its director of SafeSport. Part of Stark's mandate is educating members on rules, educational programs and reporting. The federation also adopted several recommendations by Deborah Daniels, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw the review. USA Gymnastics now has the power to withhold membership from clubs that decline to report claims of abuse.

Clubs are now "required to report child abuse or neglect, including sexual misconduct, to proper authorities, including the U.S. Center for SafeSport and law enforcement authorities."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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