McKayla Maroney says Larry Nassar earned her trust with loaf of bread

In the weight-conscious world of elite gymnastics, McKayla Maroney says she was often hungry — and there was one person who frequently came to the rescue.

Larry Nassar.

"I think I would've starved at the Olympics if I didn't have him bring me food," Maroney told NBC News' Savannah Guthrie in an exclusive interview for a special investigative edition of Dateline airing Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT.

At the time, Maroney thought Nassar, the USA Gymnastics team doctor, was just being kind. Now, she said, she realizes that his treats were a classic grooming method used by sexual abusers.

He figured out his victims' vulnerabilities and exploited them, casting himself as the nice guy in a demanding, high-stress atmosphere, she said.

'Your coaches are just always watching you. And wanting to keep you skinny," Maroney said. "And there's just other things about the culture that are also messed up that he used against us."

Maroney — who says she was molested by Nassar hundreds of times— told NBC News that she was so hungry from grueling workouts that she was grateful for the most basic of gifts from the doctor.

"[He would] buy me a loaf of bread," she said.

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McKayla Maroney through the years
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McKayla Maroney through the years
DALLAS, TX - MAY 14: Gymnast, McKayla Maroney, poses for a portrait during the 2012 Team USA Media Summit on May 14, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - U.S. women's gymnastics 'Fierce Five' appear on 'Good Morning America,' 8/15/12, airing on the ABC Television Network. (photo by Fred Lee/ABC via Getty Images) JOSH ELLIOTT, JORDYN WIEBER, GABBY DOUGLAS, MCKAYLA MARONEY, KYLA ROSS, ALY RAISMAN
ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 8: McKayla Maroney competes on the balance beam during the Senior Women's competition on day two of the Visa Championships at Chaifetz Arena on June 8, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 8: McKayla Maroney gets ready to compete on the balance beam during the Senior Women's competition on day two of the Visa Championships at Chaifetz Arena on June 8, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The United States women's gymnastics team of (center podium, left to right) Jordyn Wieber, Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Alexandra Raisman and Kyla Ross listened to the National Anthem during victory ceremonies at North Greenwich Arena during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. (David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 14: Gymnast McKayla Maroney poses at The Empire State Building on August 14, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 14: Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross and Gabby Douglas of the 2012 U.S. Women's Gymnastics Olympic Gold Medal Team ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on August 14, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 14: McKayla Maroney leaves the 'Late Show with David Letterman' at Ed Sullivan Theater on August 14, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 14: (L-R) Members of the Olympic gold medal-winning U.S. Women's Gymnastics team Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Jordyn Wieber and Kyla Ross attend The Cinema Society with Circa and Alice & Olivia screening of 'Sparkle' After Party at the Soho Grand Hotel on August 14, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 03: 2012 US Women's Gymnastics Olympic Team members McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Kyla Ross pose with Tommy Lasorda (2nd from left) after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium on September 3, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 06: (L-R) McKayla Maroney, Jordyn Wieber, Kyla Ross, Gabby Douglas and Alexandra Raisman arrive at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards at Staples Center on September 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 14: Olympic gymnast gold and silver medalist McKayla Maroney makes an appearance to sign autographs Wednesday, November 14, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22: Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney attends the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 22, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/FilmMagic)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 22: Gymnasts Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney attend the New England Patriots vs. New York Jets game at MetLife Stadium on November 22, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Pereira/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 09: Aly Raisman, Nick Cannon and McKayla Maroney attend the Third Annual Hall of Game Awards hosted by Cartoon Network at Barker Hangar on February 9, 2013 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 09: McKayla Maroney attends the Third Annual Hall of Game Awards hosted by Cartoon Network at Barker Hangar on February 9, 2013 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 17: US gymnast McKayla Maroney arrives at the 2013 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 17, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)
McKayla Maroney, Long Beach, California, during the Senior Women Competition at The 2013 P&G Gymnastics Championships, USA Gymnastics' National Championships at the XL, Centre, Hartford, Connecticut, USA. 15th August 2013. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
US McKayla Maroney competes on uneven bars at the 44th World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp on October 2, 2013. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
ANTWERPEN, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 05: McKayla Maroney of USA competes in the Vault Final on Day Six of the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships Belgium 2013 held at the Antwerp Sports Palace on October 5, 2013 in Antwerpen, Belgium. Jorge Luis Alvarez Pupo/LatinContent/Getty Images
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 27: Gymnast McKayla Maroney attends the GBK & Stop Attack Pre Kids Choice Gift Lounge held at The Redbury Hotel on March 27, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for GBK Productions)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Olympic Gymnasts Dominique Dawes and Mckayla Maroney are guests on 'Good Morning America,' 8/9/16, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) DOMINIQUE DAWES, MCKAYLA MARONEY
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 28: McKayla Maroney attends TigerBeat's Official Teen Choice Awards Pre-Party Sponsored by NYX Professional Makeup and Rock Your Hair at HYDE Sunset: Kitchen + Cocktails on July 28, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/WireImage)
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Other accusers have also described how Nassar would use gifts, treats and attention to earn their trust — and their silence about his invasive pelvic "treatments."

"To my teenage self, he appeared to be the 'good guy' in an environment that was intense and restricting," Maroney's 2012 teammate, Jordyn Wieber, told a U.S. Senate subcommittee on Wednesday. "He would try to advise me on how to deal with the stresses of training and my coaches."

"Larry acted like our friend," Wieber added.

"He always had a sympathetic ear for complaints about our coaches. He would bring us food and coffee at the Olympics when we were hungry. I didn't know that these were all grooming techniques that he used to manipulate and brainwash me into trusting him."

report commissioned by USA Gymnastics after the Nassar abuse scandal broke in September 2016 recommended that the organization require that grooming behavior by coaches and other adults be reported and investigated. The report also said a "complete culture change" was necessary to protect young athletes.

USA Gymnastics has said it was unaware that Nassar was abusing elite gymnasts before June 2015, when a coach overheard a conversation between two gymnasts about his medical techniques. He is now serving a sentence of up to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting 10 girls and possession of child pornography.

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Gymnasts who have accused Larry Nassar of assault
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Gymnasts who have accused Larry Nassar of assault
Rachael Denhollander (C) the first woman to publicly say she was sexually abused by Larry Nassar, the former physician for the U.S. womens gymnastics team is hugged during a hearing in Ingham County Circuit Court on November 22, 2017 in Lansing, Michigan. Former USA Gymnastics team doctor Lawrence (Larry) Nassar, accused of molesting dozens of female athletes over several decades, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct. Nassar -- who was involved with USA Gymnastics for nearly three decades and worked with the country's gymnasts at four separate Olympic Games -- could face at least 25 years in prison on the charges brought in Michigan. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Larissa Boyce, a former gymnast sexually abused by Larry Nassar, the former physician for the U.S. womens gymnastics team attends a hearing of Nassar's trial in Ingham County Circuit Court on November 22, 2017 in Lansing, Michigan. Former USA Gymnastics team doctor Lawrence (Larry) Nassar, accused of molesting dozens of female athletes over several decades, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct. Nassar -- who was involved with USA Gymnastics for nearly three decades and worked with the country's gymnasts at four separate Olympic Games -- could face at least 25 years in prison on the charges brought in Michigan. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Rachael Denhollander (4th L with white blouse) the first woman to publicly say she was sexually abused by Larry Nassar, the former physician for the U.S. womens gymnastics team attends a hearing in Ingham County Circuit Court on November 22, 2017 in Lansing, Michigan. Former USA Gymnastics team doctor Lawrence (Larry) Nassar, accused of molesting dozens of female athletes over several decades, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct. Nassar -- who was involved with USA Gymnastics for nearly three decades and worked with the country's gymnasts at four separate Olympic Games -- could face at least 25 years in prison on the charges brought in Michigan. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Madeleine Jones, 18 of Farmington Hills, Michigan, who was victimized by former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar attends a hearing in Ingham County Circuit Court on November 22, 2017 in Lansing, Michigan. Former USA Gymnastics team doctor Lawrence (Larry) Nassar, accused of molesting dozens of female athletes over several decades, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct. Nassar -- who was involved with USA Gymnastics for nearly three decades and worked with the country's gymnasts at four separate Olympic Games -- could face at least 25 years in prison on the charges brought in Michigan. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Larissa Boyce (R) gets a hug from Alexis Alvarado, both victims of Larry Nassar, during a hearing in Ingham County Circuit Court on November 22, 2017 in Lansing, Michigan. Former USA Gymnastics team doctor Lawrence (Larry) Nassar, accused of molesting dozens of female athletes over several decades, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct. Nassar -- who was involved with USA Gymnastics for nearly three decades and worked with the country's gymnasts at four separate Olympic Games -- could face at least 25 years in prison on the charges brought in Michigan. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
kalie Lorincz (C) who was victimized by former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar during a hearing in Ingham County Circuit Court on November 22, 2017 in Lansing, Michigan. Former USA Gymnastics team doctor Lawrence (Larry) Nassar, accused of molesting dozens of female athletes over several decades, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct. Nassar -- who was involved with USA Gymnastics for nearly three decades and worked with the country's gymnasts at four separate Olympic Games -- could face at least 25 years in prison on the charges brought in Michigan. / AFP PHOTO / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
ANTWERPEN, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 02: McKayla Maroney of USA gets ready to compete in the Womens Vault Qualification on Day Three of the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships Belgium 2013 held at the Antwerp Sports Palace on October 2, 2013 in Antwerpen, Belgium. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16: Aly Raisman of the United States performs during the women's floor exercise final at Rio 2016 on Tuesday, August 16, 2016. Raisin finished second to fellow American Simone Biles. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 29: Olympic medalist Simone Biles stands on stage during an East Room event at the White House September 29, 2016 in Washington, DC. President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama welcome the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams to the White House to honor their participation and success in the Rio Olympic Games this year. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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