09:40, February 14 141 0 usmagazine.com

2018-02-14 09:40:04

 

Shaun White Apologizes for Calling His Sexual Harassment Allegations ‘Gossip’

Snowboarder Shaun White made history when he became the first person to win three gold medals in Olympic snowboarding competitions on Wednesday, February 14 in PyeongChang, South Korea. But the athlete’s success isn’t the only thing making headlines.

As White was making his comeback at the 2018 Winter Games, social media users were tweeting details from a August 2016 lawsuit filed against him by Lena Zawaideh. Zawaideh, a former drummer in the 31-year-old’s band, Bad Things, claims he “repeatedly sexually harassed her, forced her to watch pornography and refused to pay her after she was fired.”

White paid an undisclosed settlement in May.

At a press conference hours after his win, White was asked by reporters if he thought the claims would tarnish his reputation. “I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff,” he replied. “I don’t think think so.”

Shaun White on ‘Today‘ show
Shaun White on ‘Today‘ show

It’s a comment White regrets making. “I’m truly sorry that I chose the word gossip,” he told Today later that afternoon. “It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today.” The four-time medalist then reflected on how he has grown as a person. “It’s amazing how life works and twists and turns and lessons learned,” he revealed. “Every experience in my life I feel like it’s taught me a lesson and I definitely feel like I’m a much more changed person then I was when I was younger.”

In her lawsuit, Zawaideh also included screenshots of alleged text exchanges from White. According to TMZ, who obtained the messages, White allegedly asked her to cut her hair a certain way and sent her sexually explicit and graphic images of penises. 

White’s lawyer, Kerry Garvis Wright, previously told Us Weekly in a statement that her client did send the text messages, but the lawsuit isn’t justified. 

“Many years ago, I exchanged texts with a friend who is now using them to craft a bogus lawsuit,” read White’s statement via his attorney. “There is absolutely no coincidence to the timing of her claims, and we will defend them vigorously in court.”

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