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Aly Raisman on Larry Nassar verdict: 'He deserves to suffer,' but more must be done

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman spoke about the need for an independent investigation into the sexual abuse scandal involving disgraced doctor Larry Nassar.
/ Source: TODAY

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman said disgraced doctor Larry Nassar deserved to spend the rest of his life in prison, but insisted more needed to be done to uncover how he managed to sexually abuse scores of young girls and athletes in his care.

"This is bigger than Larry Nassar," Raisman told TODAY in an exclusive interview on Thursday. "We need to get to the bottom of how this happened. If we don't figure out how it did, we can't be confident that it won't happen again."

Nassar, 54, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison Wednesday for molesting seven young girls in Ingham County, Michigan, under the guise of providing treatment.

In December, he was sentenced to 60 years in a federal child pornography case, and is still facing sentencing in Eaton County, Michigan, for three counts of criminal sexual conduct.

"He deserves to suffer," the 23-year-old gold medalist told TODAY. "It's disgusting what happened."

Raisman called for an independent investigation into USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University to determine whether those organizations enabled Nassar's abuse.

Some of her "Fierce Five" and "Final Five" teammates from the 2012 and 2016 Olympics in London and Rio de Janeiro, including Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney and Simone Biles, spoke out in recent months to say Nassar preyed on them.

The fallout from the scandal continued Wednesday night when Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon resigned after a pair of Michigan senators called for her ouster. The NCAA confirmed on Tuesday that it's opening an investigation into Michigan State.

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Raisman was praised for her bravery and composure after she delivered a powerful statement during Nassar's sentencing hearing on Jan. 19. She was one of 156 accusers who gave statements during the seven-day hearing.

"Larry, you do realize now that we — this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time — are now a force, and you are nothing," Raisman said in court. "The tables have turned, Larry. We are here, we have our voices and we are not going anywhere."

Raisman told TODAY she had not seen him in person since the Olympic training camp in 2015, so she looked at pictures of him online to prepare to face him.

"In that moment, I almost felt like I was going to compete because at the Olympics you block out everything, and in that moment I blocked out everything,'' she said. "After, I will be honest, I was sick. I almost passed out, and I had the worst headache for hours.

"For that moment, I had to be strong, but I'm very, very exhausted from it."

She said she drew strength from meeting fellow survivors in the courtroom.

“We really are an army of survivors and this is just the beginning for us.”

Raisman said she has not been contacted by USA Gymnastics since making her courtroom statement.

On Wednesday, the organization said it supported the sentencing and any further investigation.

"USA Gymnastics supports an independent investigation that may shine light on how abuse of the proportion described so courageously by the survivors of Larry Nassar could have gone undetected for so long and embraces any necessary and appropriate changes," the organization said.

"USA Gymnastics and the [United States Olympic Committee] have the same goal — making the sport of gymnastics, and others, as safe as possible for athletes to follow their dreams in a safe, positive and empowered environment."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.