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Olympic snowboarder Shaun White apologizes for referring to sexual misconduct lawsuit as 'gossip'

Details of his sexual misconduct lawsuit resurfaced during the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Shaun White
Shawn White poses for photos with his gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Credit: Getty Images

Olympic snowboarder Shaun White apologized for dismissing sexual allegations made against him by calling it “gossip” during a press conference after winning this third gold medal during the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist said he’s a “changed person” when he was asked about sexual misconduct allegations made against him in a 2016 lawsuit.

White put on an epic performance during the men’s snowboard halfpipe event at the 2018 Winter Olympics and won a gold medal.  Considered as one of the best snowboarders in the world, White earned gold medals during 2006, 2010 and this year’s 2018 Winter Games. He competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi but finished in fourth place.

While many people were celebrating his return to the Olympics and cheered for him for winning finishing on top with another gold medal, details from a lawsuit made by Lena Zawaideh, the former drummer in White’s rock band, Bad Things, resurfaced.

Details of the sexual misconduct lawsuit are explicit and disturbing. According to Zawaideh, White sent her images of penises and forced her to watch sexually explicit videos, including videos sexualizing human fecal matter. He also made sexual remarks about her relationship with her boyfriend. Other harrowing details from the August 2016 Shaun White legal complaint can be found in the 76-page legal document on Deadspin. The Deadspin article from 2016 outlines graphic details from the allegations, including screenshots of text messages and photos that White sent to Zawaideh. The lawsuit was settled privately last year. 

Shaun White, by Lena Zawaideh, Bad Things Band in 2013

Shaun White, Lena Zawaideh of the Bad Things band at Lollapalooza in 2013. Credit: Getty Images 

Shaun White discusses sexual misconduct lawsuit at Olympics

Shortly after winning his third Olympic gold medal, he was asked a series of questions about his big win, ABC journalist Matt Guttman asked White to talk about the sexual misconduct allegations that recently resurfaced in the media.

“Are you concerned that they are going to tarnish your legacy?” Guttman asked.

 “Honestly, I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff,” White said. “I don’t think so — I am who I am and I’m proud of who I am and my friends love me and vouch for me and I think that stands on its own.”

According to ABC, other reporters tried to ask him more questions about the lawsuit, but U.S. Snowboarding and Freeskiing event director Nick Alexakos quickly shut them down and urged reporters to only ask questions related to the Olympics.

Shaun White apologizes for using the word gossip

White regrets referring the sexual misconduct lawsuit made against him as “gossip” and has since apologized publically for saying it.

White appeared on NBC’s TODAY show to issue an apology for his poor judgment during the press conference. “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.” He went on to say that he was “overwhelmed” by him winning the gold medal for the United States.

 
 
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