Former US snowboard head coach Peter Foley has been accused of exploiting his position of trust to "coerce sexual acts" ©Getty Images

A group of three former United States snowboarders have filed a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by former coach Peter Foley that was covered up by US Ski & Snowboard (USSS) and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

Olympic bronze medallist Rosey Fletcher, Erin O'Malley and Callan Chythlook-Sifsof are suing at the US District Court for the Central District of Los Angeles, and claim that Foley exploited his position of trust to "coerce sexual acts through force, manipulation, emotional abuse, intimidation and retaliation".

They also accuse the USSS and USOPC of failing to act when allegations of abuse were reported.

"Foley's abuse was reported to executives of the USSS and the USOPC on numerous occasions by multiple athletes who were coached by Foley, yet no action was taken," the suit reads.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the lawsuit alleged that Foley committed sexual abuse and battery for "nearly 20 years" against Fletcher, O'Malley, Chythlook-Sifsof and other women.

Vancouver 2010 Olympian Chythlook-Sifsof first made allegations on Instagram in February last year, accusing Foley of taking "naked photos of female athletes for over a decade".

He was suspended by the US Center for SafeSport with a probe ongoing, and then fired by the USSS after a workplace investigation revealed a "toxic culture".

Foley had been head coach of the US snowboard team since 1994, leading them at  Winter Olympics.

He denied any wrongdoing when the allegations were first made last year.

US Olympic bronze medallist Rosey Fletcher is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit ©Getty Images
US Olympic bronze medallist Rosey Fletcher is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit ©Getty Images

Reuters was unable to determine if he had a legal representative, but an attorney who previously represented him did not respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit makes seven allegations of sex trafficking, and accuses him of assault, battery, sexual harassment, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Former USSS President and chief executive Gale "Tiger" Shaw has been named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The governing bodies face allegations of negligence and sexual assault in the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

A separate lawsuit has additionally been filed Lindsey Nikola, a former member of the USSS communications team, alleging sexual misconduct by Foley.

The USSS acknowledged the filing of the lawsuits.

"We are aware of the lawsuits that were filed," it said, as reported by the LA Times.

"U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not yet been served with the complaint nor have had an opportunity to fully review it.

"U.S. Ski & Snowboard is and will remain an organization that prioritizes the safety, health and well-being of its athletes and staff."

Former USSS President and chief executive Gale
Former USSS President and chief executive Gale "Tiger" Shaw has been named as a defendant in the lawsuit, and the organisation is accused of failing to take action when allegations of abuse were reported ©Getty Images

In 2021, survivors of disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar have reached a $380 million (£315 million/€351 million) settlement with USA Gymnastics, USOPC and their insurers after a five-year legal battle. 

The settlement agreement came more than five years after Olympian Jamie Dantzscher filed the first civil lawsuit against the convicted serial sexual predator. 

More than 500 others eventually filed similar claims against Nassar's former employers.

Nassar worked as a volunteer with USA Gymnastics for more than two decades, including serving as the national team's medical coordinator starting in 1996. 

He pleaded guilty in 2017 to possession of child pornography and, in early 2018, to sexually assaulting his former patients. 

He was sentenced to more than 100 years in prison for his crimes. 

Multiple investigations found that officials from several organisations, including the USOPC, failed to stop Nassar's abuse despite years of complaints and warning signs.

The USOPC said it could not comment on specific details of the latest case as it had not seen the complaint, but insisted "we take every allegation of abuse very seriously".

"The USOPC is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Team USA athletes, and we are taking every step to identify, report, and eliminate abuse in our community," it said, the BBC reported.

The International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) told insidethegames it could not comment on "any ongoing or open legal cases, especially those involving third parties where FIS has no direct involvement".

Fletcher competed at three Olympics and won a parallel giant slalom bronze at Turin 2006, O'Malley was a national team member in the 1990s, and Chythlook-Sifsof competed at Vancouver 2010.