Longtime U.S. Olympic snowboarding coach Peter Foley, accused of sexual misconduct by a former athlete during the Winter Games in February and relieved of his duties over the weekend, faces a broader, formal investigation into new allegations of sexual assault.
Lindsey Sine Nikola, who worked for U.S. Ski and Snowboard from 2006 to 2010, told The New York Times that she had been sexually assaulted by Foley and contacted the U.S. Center for SafeSport last week.
Nikola is one of at least four women who have accused Foley, according to allegations first reported by ESPN. Three are former athletes, including an unnamed Olympic medalist who reported that she was sexually assaulted by Foley at a training camp when she was 19, ESPN said.
A lawyer for Foley told ESPN that the accusations were false, and that Foley would cooperate with the investigation.
Foley, a head coach for U.S. Ski and Snowboard since 1994, was suspended from his job last week pending an investigation by SafeSport, an independent body that handles accusations of abuse and misconduct in Olympic sports. On Sunday, U.S. Ski and Snowboard announced that he was no longer employed by the organization.
The unnamed former athlete, ESPN reported, said that she was asleep in a hotel room shared by several national team members when Foley slid in behind her, “reached his left arm over my body and put his fingers inside me.”
As a head coach, Foley determined which athletes made the teams.
“There is now this power position,” the athlete told ESPN. “He can say I can’t start in this World Cup and I can’t be in the Games.”
Allegations against Foley were first raised publicly in February during the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, who competed with the national team in snowboard cross at the 2010 Vancouver Games, said in a series of Instagram posts on Friday that Foley took “naked photos of female athletes for over a decade.”
She described a broad culture of sexual misconduct, including an episode in which she said Foley had directed sexual remarks at her and another snowboarder.
Foley denied those allegations to The New York Times on the same day that Lindsey Jacobellis and Nick Baumgartner, coached by Foley, won a gold medal in the mixed team event of snowboard cross, a subset of snowboarding that was Foley’s primary focus.
But the public accusations by Chythlook-Sifsof got the attention of other women, including Nikola, who worked in communications for U.S. Ski and Snowboard.
“Thinking back on it made me realize the intent [of the photo shoot] was, ‘We have a secret,’” Nikola told ESPN. “Once photos like this exist, they become their own source of power. They were absolutely a tool for keeping me quiet. I felt like I couldn’t say anything because there were these images of me to discredit me.”
Nikola reported that she was subsequently sexually assaulted by Foley.