Shaun White Apologizes for Referring to Past Sexual Harassment Allegations As ‘Gossip’

AP Todd Williamson
AP Photo/Todd Williamson

U.S. Olympic snowboarder Shaun White had a huge night on Tuesday, he won his third gold medal and the 100th gold medal in Team USA history.

However, the Wednesday morning headlines are not about White’s Olympic success. Instead, the headlines are about Shaun White apologizing for making light of sexual harassment claims.

In a lawsuit originally filed in August of 2016, White was accused of sexual harassment by Lena Zawaideh. The lawsuit claims that, “repeatedly sexually harassed her and forced his authoritarian management style on her for over seven years.”

The suit goes on to say, “White sent sexually explicit and graphic images to Zawaideh of engorged and erect penises, forced her to watch sexually disturbing videos, including videos sexualizing human fecal matter, and made vulgar sexual remarks to her.”

Those allegations resurfaced in the week leading up to White’s Olympic performance, after articles about the charge appeared in Slate and the New York Times.

When reporters confronted White about the charges, the Olympic snowboarder said, he was there to “talk about the Olympics not, you know, gossip.”

White backtracked from those comments on the Today show on Wednesday. Saying, “I’m truly sorry that I chose the word ‘gossip.’ It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today and I’m just truly sorry.”

According to TIME, “White and Zawaideh reached a settlement in May 2017. Their representatives did not immediately respond to TIME’s requests for comment on Tuesday, though White’s lawyers have previously denied the claims.”

“I’ve grown as a person over the years,” White said on Today Wednesday. “It’s amazing how life works in twists and turns and lessons learned. Every experience in my life, I feel like it’s taught me a lesson. I definitely feel like I’m a much more changed person than I was when I was younger. I’m proud of who I am today.”


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