Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney told NBC News she was sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar "every time I saw him," which amounted to "hundreds" of times.
"He said that nobody would understand this and the sacrifice that it takes to get to the Olympics, so you can't tell people this," Maroney said in a clip that aired Wednesday morning on the "Today" show.
"He didn't say it in a way that was mean or anything like that. I actually was like: 'That makes sense. I don't want to tell anybody about this.' And I didn't believe that they would understand."
Nassar has received two sentences of at least 40 years each for his serial sexual abuse of girls and young women. He is serving a 60-year federal term for child pornography crimes.
Maroney, 22, wrote about her abuse by Nassar in a Twitter post last year and composed an impact statement that was read at one of Nassar's sentencing hearings in January. But she hadn't commented publicly about the matter until this week, starting with an appearance at at the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children charity luncheon Tuesday.
"I was taught for so many years that I wasn't supposed to say anything," she said during a 13-minute speech at the fundraiser. "I carried this secret around with me. A lot of people would say that [coming forward] would be empowering. It really was. I am so happy to be here and speaking and lifting that weight off my shoulders."
In her speech, Maroney also criticized criticized USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University for allowing such behavior to take place.
"We know Larry is a monster, and learning from everything that has come out, I should never have met him," she said. "USA Gymnastics, MSU and the USOC continued to look away to protect their reputations. All they cared about is money and medals. It didn't seem they cared about anything else."
All three organizations have made major leadership changes in the aftermath of the Nassar scandal.
"Within the gymnastics world, there's no question we need to rebuild from the ground up so this never happens again," Maroney said. "I definitely see a future where athletes are safe and succeeding. This next generation is going to be even stronger with everything that we're doing because they don't need to continue to struggle with the repercussions of sexual abuse. They shouldn't have to. I should have never had to. My team won gold medals in spite of USA Gymnastics and MSU and USOC. They don't build champions. They break them. But we're changing that."
USA Gymnastics issued a statement hours after Maroney's speech.
"The powerful voices of the athletes, like McKayla, who shared their experiences of abuse by Nassar impacted us all and will influence our decisions going forward," the organization stated. "USA Gymnastics is committed to building a culture that empowers and supports our athletes and focuses on our highest priority, the safety and well-being of our athletes. We are doing everything possible to prevent abuse, and we hope everything we do going forward makes this very clear."
More from Maroney's interview with NBC News will air Sunday on "Dateline."