Savannah Guthrie wants to keep the conversation about USA gymnastics going.
In an NBC News exclusive airing during Sunday’s Dateline, she’ll interview Bela and Martha Karolyi — the coaches responsible for training some of Team USA’s top gymnasts — about what they knew regarding the sexual abuse team doctor Larry Nassar allegedly engaged in with over 200 gymnasts for decades.
“It’s a very good and complicated question,” Guthrie, 46, tells PEOPLE. “These are young women, and what Larry Nassar did was in the guise of medical treatment. They thought he was a doctor and they thought this was medical treatment. And they were young girls and they had no reason to doubt him. A lot of the gymnasts didn’t realize until years later.”
Nasser, 54, pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges and state sexual abuse charges in Michigan, to which Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced him to 45 to 175 years in prison.
“These gymnasts who have come forward and told their stories and gone into court faced their violator want the story to keep going because they want the institutions around them to be held to account,” Guthrie says. “They feel very strongly about that. They call themselves an army of survivors and they are wanting to wage a battle to make sure that they are heard and it doesn’t happen again and that those who are responsible are held to account.”
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Olympic gymnasts like Aly Raisman, 23, and Jordyn Wieber, 22, were among the over 150 women who testified against Nasser in court. McKayla Maroney, who competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics and was Nasser’s favorite during her time on the team, made her first public comments this week about the abuse she suffered. The 22-year-old will speak more in-depth with Guthrie during Sunday’s Dateline.
“She’s never sat for an interview and told what happened to her and the details are really painful and very harrowing in terms of the treatment she received,” the Today co-anchor explains. “She said she was abused by Larry Nassar hundreds of times from the very first time he treated her she was 13 years old. She said it happened every time.”
Thanks to brave women like Maroney and her teammates, Guthrie hopes viewers come away feel optimistic about creating change. “I think that you will come away with feeling like there were opportunities,” she says. “Some of these young women were trying to say something, and they were trying to get help, but obviously it didn’t happen soon enough.”
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The Dateline special, titled “Silent No More,” airs Sunday on NBC at 7 p.m. ET.