Former members of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard (USSS) team have filed suit against their former coach and Olympic organizations alleging heinous sex-related crimes including trafficking, assault and rape.
On Thursday in U.S. District Court in the central district of Los Angeles, 2006 Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher was joined by 2010 Olympian Callan Chythlook-Sifsof and former national team member Erin O’Malley in suing their former coach Peter Foley. According to court documents obtained by ESPN, the women have alleged Foley used his position to “coerce sexual acts through force, manipulation, emotional abuse, intimidation and retaliation.”
Also named in the suit were Gale “Tiger” Shaw, CEO of the national federation, and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) alleged to have “conspired and acted in concert with one another to commit unlawful acts”
The lawsuit stated, “Foley’s abuse was reported to executives of the USSS and USOPC on numerous occasions by multiple athletes who were coached by Foley, yet no action was taken.”
Each of the women recounted their own stories of sexual abuse with Fletcher asserting that Foley had done so to her at a U.S. team camp when she was 19 and once again at a post-race event at the Olympics. O’Malley specified that she was only 15 when her former coach allegedly sexually assaulted her at sanctioned competitions and brazenly in an elevator in front of Fletcher.
“Foley began groping Erin and forcibly trying to kiss her — all without her consent,” the lawsuit accused while also alleging Foley had mentally and verbally abused O’Malley.
For her part, Chythlook-Sifsof said she was raped by a male coach “nearly three times her age from an opposing team” at the 2005 world junior championships when she was 16 and that, “Although it was not a USSS coach that sexually assaulted Callan, USSS set the stage for the assault to occur and failed to change the toxic environment.”
The three women seeking an unspecified amount of damages were not alone in leveling charges against Foley as former federation employee Lindsey Nikola filed her own suit against him Thursday claiming he “sexually harassed and sexually assaulted her” by forcing her to take naked photos in hotel rooms at two separate World Cup ski races where he also allegedly sexually assaulted her while she worked as a member of the USSS communications team.
“For nearly twenty years, coaches and executives at both organizations enabled Foley’s behavior, refused to act, and helped cover up Foley’s behavior, allowing him to continue his pattern of abuse,” the first lawsuit said.
Foley was on a leave of absence in February 2022 when allegations were first brought against him, ESPN reported, before later being fired in March. Despite USSS CEO Sophie Goldschmidt contending the organization was following an “athlete safety plan” when they became aware of the alleged assaults, the outlet confirmed Foley was in a restricted area at the 2022 Olympics and was witnessed hugging gold medalist Lindsey Jacobellis at the finish line.
“Had the USSS taken the safety of their young athletes and employees seriously, Foley’s behavior could have been prevented,” the lawsuits asserted.
In response, a USSS spokesperson merely stated, “We are aware of the lawsuits that were filed. U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not yet been served with the complaint nor have had an opportunity to fully review it.”
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