Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman said the decades in prison once-renowned gymnastic doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to Wednesday doesn't close the book on the scandal and repeated her call for leaders at the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics to be held accountable.
"It’s not something that instantly makes you feel better. We need to hold these organizations accountable. USAG, USOC, Michigan State University, they need an independent investigation," Raisman told "Today" anchor Hoda Kotb in an interview Thursday morning. "This is bigger than Larry Nassar. We have to get to the bottom of how this disaster happened. If we don’t figure out how it did, we can’t be confident that it won’t happen again."
Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years for molesting young female athletes under the guise of giving medical treatment, capping an extraordinary hearing during which more than 150 women and girls, including Raisman, described his abuse.
U.S. & World
"He deserves to suffer," Raisman said. "It's disgusting what happened."
The 23-year-old gymnast also chided her sport's governing body for letting Nassar treat gymnasts at Texas training facility without a medical license in the state. The Texas Medical Board confirmed to the Dallas Morning News late Wednesday that Nassar wasn't licensed in the state.
"How does this happen? What does that say about USA Gymnastics and the USOC?" Raisman said. "Whether they knew or didn’t know that’s a big problem and we need to investigate how this happened."
According to the Texas Medical Board, any of out-of-state physician traveling with a sports team is practicing without a licence, a third-degree felony that is rarely enforced. Nassar worked at the Karolyi Ranch, the training facility that served as the USAG's National Training Center, under the radar of the board by operating in this regulatory gray area.
Board spokesman Jarret Scheider told the Dallas News that traveling team doctors and trainers treating athletes without a licence in the state is "a national issue not unique to Texas."
The last time Raisman saw Nassar was in 2015 at the Karolyi Ranch while preparing for the Rio Games. USA Gymnastics cut ties with the Huntsville, Texas, facility after athletes who alleged some of the abuse occurred at the ranch expressed dismay at having to attend camps there.
Raisman faced Nassar again for the first time during his marathon sentencing hearing. She said she prepared herself for the trial by looking at pictures of him online, but found comfort in being part of a group of women speaking out against the same abuser.
"I didn’t know how I'd feel but walking in there, but being with this army of survivors — I didn’t know most of these girls and women — but I just felt instant connection," Raisman said. "We were hugging each other. We really are an army of survivors, and this is just the beginning for us."
She said since making her statement at the hearing, no one from USA Gymnastics or the U.S. Olympic Committee had reached out to her.
Raisman accuses the organizations of mishandling years of sexual assault complaints against Nassar because "medals, reputation, and money" were placed ahead of athlete safety.
In an open letter to Team USA athletes, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun apologized to Nassar's victims for not supporting them with a physical presence in the courtroom and called on all current directors at USA Gymnastics to step down.
"The purpose of this message is to tell all of Nassar’s victims and survivors, directly, how incredibly sorry we are," Blackmun wrote in a letter posted late Wednesday on Team USA's website. "We have said it in other contexts, but we have not been direct enough with you. We are sorry for the pain caused by this terrible man, and sorry that you weren’t afforded a safe opportunity to pursue your sports dreams. The Olympic family is among those that have failed you."
He also announced an independent investigation to determine "who knew what and when" when it comes to Nassar.
Raisman alleges the USOC hid the abuse and has called on its leaders to resign. On Monday, Raisman claimed that a day after the Indianapolis Star named Nassar in a 2016 report on USA Gymastics' lackluster response to allegations of assault the "USOC said they wouldn’t investigate (and even praised USAG’s work in the area of sexual abuse).”
Hours after Nassar's sentencing hearing, Michigan State — which has asked the state attorney general to conduct a review of how the university handled the Nassar case — announced President Lou Anna Simon's resignation amid mounting pressure.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., called on Congress to launch an investigation into USA Gymnastics' handling of complaints against Nassar.
"The abuses that occurred at USA Gymnastics should not have been allowed to occur. I agree: Nassar’s trial should be the start of a bigger investigation by Congress so that this can never happen again," Gillibrand tweeted Thursday.
Meanwhile, on Monday, three top officials at USA Gymnastics resigned. Board members Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chair Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley announced they were stepping down. The organization also announced the suspension of former women's national team coach John Geddert, the owner of a gymnastics club where Nassar sexually abused girls near Lansing, Michigan.
Before serving the Michigan sentence, the 54-year-old must first serve a 60-year federal sentence for child pornography crimes. With credit for good behavior, he could complete that sentence in about 55 years. By then, he would be more than 100 years old if still alive.