Shaun White refers to sexual assault lawsuit as “gossip”

Shaun White
The Associated Press

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — Shaun White dismissed the sexual assault allegations made against him in a 2016 lawsuit as “gossip” and hurried away from reporters trying to ask him more about the allegations Wednesday, just hours after winning his third gold medal in the men’s halfpipe.

White has been the world’s dominant snowboarder for more than a decade, winning gold medals in 2006, 2010 and again this year, completing a comeback after finishing fourth in 2014.

As White was competing, many on social media resurfaced the details from the lawsuit by a former drummer in White’s rock band, the Bad Things. Lena Zawaideh said White sexually harassed and refused to pay her wages after he fired her. The lawsuit was settled in May for an undisclosed amount.

White was asked if the allegations might tarnish his reputation.

“I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff,” he said. “I don’t think so.”

Reporters attempted to follow up about the lawsuit, but US Snowboarding and Freeskiing Event Director Nick Alexakos shut them down.

White immediately left the stage following the conference while reporters continued to question him.

“I have to get to the medal ceremony,” he said while being ushered away by Alexakos.

In the lawsuit, Zawaideh said White repeatedly sexually harassed her, forced her to watch pornography and told her how to get her hair cut.

The lawsuit included screengrabs of text messages allegedly sent by White asking about the haircut and suggesting she wear a provocative outfit.

Praise for White’s performance in Pyeongchang caught backfire on social media at a time when #MeToo and other movements are calling for more accountability about harassment and abuse.

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More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

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