Mar 25, 2022
Former U.S. Ski and Snowboard coach Peter Foley, 56, has been accused of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, unwanted kissing and touching, and coercing women into taking nude photos, according to an ESPN report. Three former athletes as well as a former employee of U.S. Ski and Snowboard have made allegations against Foley.
The women brought their complaints last week with the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a watchdog organization authorized by Congress to police issues related to sexual abuse in U.S. amateur sports, according to ESPN. Once the complaints were received, the following action was taken:
Foley was the head coach of the U.S. snowboard team since its inception in 1994. He led the national team to seven Olympics, including the most recent Beijing Games. His athletes – male and female – won a combined 35 Olympic medals, according to ESPN.
Via his attorney, Foley denied the allegations of sexual misconduct.
“Any allegations of sexual misconduct being made against him are false,” Howard Jacobs, attorney for Peter Foley, told ESPN on Sunday. “Mr. Foley has not engaged in any conduct that violates the SafeSport Code, and he will cooperate with the U.S. Center for SafeSport when and if they contact him.“
Allegations against Foley first surfaced during the Beijing Olympics in February. Former snowboardcross athlete Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, a 2010 Olympian, wrote several Instagram posts accusing Foley of sexual misconduct. She also accused two male athletes of misogynistic and racist behavior.
Following the Instagram posts, U.S. Ski and Snowboard issued a statement asserting that it took “the allegations very seriously and the allegations are being investigated.”
ESPN interviewed more than two dozen sources, including coaches, staff, and other individuals connected to the program and ongoing investigation.
One Olympic medalist, who filed an oral complaint with SafeSport and wished to remain anonymous, alleged that Foley sexually assaulted her while she participated in a U.S. training camp that he ran when she was 19. After the camp’s conclusion, the night before she was scheduled to catch a return flight home, Foley allegedly assaulted her in a room with other athletes.
“I was on the edge of the bed and I was asleep and at one point I feel someone sneak in behind me in the bed,” the athlete said to ESPN. She further told ESPN that she eventually realized it was Foley, and that the coach “reached his left arm over my body and put his fingers inside me.”
“I just laid there,” she said. “I remember just laying there in shock. It happened for a while and it just stopped and he got up and left.”
Various other athletes interviewed by ESPN chose to go on the record, describing a party-like atmosphere and toxic culture that often involved Foley sharing hotel rooms with females.
“It is a good ol’ boys club,” Erin O’Malley, one of the first women to join the U.S. snowboard team in 1995, when she was 16, told ESPN. “Do as we want and keep your mouth shut.”
“There was lots of rowdiness,” O’Malley said. “Boys could behave any way they wanted. I didn’t know any better and I thought, ‘Well, this is how it is. This is how the boys’ team acts. And us girls do what we need to do to make it through the day.'”
The aforementioned anonymous athlete who said she was assaulted at the training camp also told ESPN that by the time she made the team, Foley “had established himself as a dirty dog.”
“He’s frothing over young girls and says crude comments,” the athlete said to ESPN. “It was the culture. It was what guys did. We had drunk guys busting into your room, getting in your bed, humping your leg, grabbing bras out of the drawer and running down the hall with them.”
She and the other three women who have brought allegations against Foley told ESPN that they have agreed to cooperate with SafeSport’s multistep investigatory process. Said investigation will reportedly include written and verbal statements of alleged wrongdoing on the part of the former U.S. Ski and Snowboard coach.
Following the ESPN report, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley sent a letter to U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Sophie Goldschmidt and general counsel Alison Pitt.
“The reports shared by the Center are very troubling. They allege that U.S. Ski and Snowboard leadership has been conducting its own investigation outside of the investigation being conducted by the Center, has failed to make notifications regarding sexual misconduct to the Center, and has failed to timely provide the Center with evidence in the possession of U.S. Ski and Snowboard,” Grassley said in the letter.
“Further, it has been reported that U.S. Ski and Snowboard has actively provided misinformation to individuals involved in the investigation in an effort to discourage participation in the Center’s investigation and to attempt to identify who may be participating in the investigation.”
According to the letter, Grassley also referred SafeSport’s concerns to the FBI.
“U.S. Ski & Snowboard is aware of the concerns raised by Senator Grassley’s office, and takes the concerns seriously,” the federation said in a statement on Wednesday. “Still, U.S. Ski & Snowboard disagrees that it has not acted in accordance with its obligations or with the expectations of the U.S. Center for SafeSport. U.S. Ski & Snowboard has fully cooperated with the Center, including reporting all information that was brought to our attention to the Center in real-time.”
Following the conviction of disgraced USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, Congress passed an August 2020 bill requiring amateur sport organizations to report any reasonable suspicion of abuse to SafeSport and law enforcement. Additionally, SafeSport is required to report to Congress any interference (or attempts to interfere) with an investigation on the part of an organization.
Under the federal statute, Congress has given “exclusive jurisdiction” to SafeSport to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct in amateur sports. Any individual representing a national governing body (NGB) who fails to report an allegation to SafeSport, misrepresents information, or tries to discourage someone from participating or conducting a sexual misconduct investigation can be investigated for interference and subject to sanctions.
Senator Grassley told ESPN that multiple NGBs appear to have attempted to interfere in the current investigation into U.S. Ski and Snowboard and now terminated coach Peter Foley’s alleged sexual misconduct.
“For this system to work, the NGBs need to follow the law and cooperate with SafeSport. Unfortunately, too many NGBs appear to have attempted to skirt oversight, and U.S. Ski and Snowboard is the latest example,” Grassley told ESPN.
Penalties for interfering in an investigation or any type of wrongdoing on the part of an NGB can include a lifetime ban from participating in all activities and sports that fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.
According to ESPN, Congress has previously investigated interference by USA Badminton, USA Hockey, and the CEO of USA Water Polo.
Current and former members of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team as well as anyone associated with a sport that falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Center for SafeSport can make a report of sexual assault or another type of crime 24 hours a day by calling
833-5-US-SAFE (833-587-7233) or going online.
In December, Larry Nassar survivors reached a $380 million sexual abuse settlement with U.S.A. Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Nassar was sentenced to over 300 years in prison after hundreds of women came forward to report sex crimes which occurred over multiple decades.
Sadly, the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal is not an anomaly. In fact, sexual abuse scandals in professional, college, and amateur sports have become rampant in recent years.
Some college athletic sex crime scandals that have made headlines in recent years include:
The four main principles of the Child Athlete Bill of Rights include (under the acronym SAFE):
The Child Athlete Bill of Rights would establish a first-ever national set of regulations governing youth sports – regulations enforceable through civil claims against an organization’s (such as U.S.A. Gymnastics) insurance coverage.
Sexual assault civil lawsuits may be filed by survivors in an effort to recover financial compensation for various types of losses. Depending on the circumstances of your sexual assault crime, compensatory damages may be pursued and recovered through a civil claim.
Examples of some common damages that may be secured through a California sexual assault or abuse civil claim include:
The California statute of limitations on sex crimes allows adult sexual assault survivors to file civil claims up to 10 years after an incident. Furthermore, the statute of limitations allows for a three-year window in civil claims where sexual assaults lead to the discovery of a psychological injury, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
For California childhood sexual abuse claims, the statute of limitations is currently paused on all civil lawsuits under AB 218. That means that any survivor – regardless of age or how long ago the crime occurred – is currently eligible to file a civil claim in pursuit of a financial damages award.
However, the three-year lookback window clause within California AB 218 expires at the end of this year, at which time the statute of limitations will resume. Accordingly, childhood sexual abuse survivors are strongly encouraged to file claims as soon as possible to ensure their chance at justice is preserved. Survivors who do not file claims by the December 31, 2022 deadline will likely be left without legal recourse.
For additional information on California AB 218 and the unprecedented opportunity at justice it offers survivors of childhood sexual abuse, please visit our recent blog.
Dordulian Law Group (DLG) is a leading California-based sexual assault firm representing survivors across the United States. We offer a unique type of legal representation which includes a four-tiered team of professionals known as the SAJE Team.
Led by Sam Dordulian, a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, DLG’s experienced sexual assault lawyers have helped countless survivors secure maximum financial damages awards.
Some of our recent sexual assault civil lawsuit victories include:
For a free and confidential consultation regarding your sexual assault civil claim, contact a member of DLG’s SAJE Team today at 818-322-4056. With a 98% success record, our sex crime attorneys have helped victims recover more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.