Harassment suit dogs White after win
PYEONGCHANG — As Shaun White celebrated his third Olympic halfpipe title, much of the vast, unwieldy social media universe celebrated. They remembered the 31-year-old as a younger man, winning gold in at the 2006 Olympics and again in 2010, and they remembered his disappointing fourth-place finish four years ago at Sochi .
Many others remembered what happened between Sochi and these Pyeongchang Olympics, which included allegations of sexual harassment and a lawsuit that White faced in 2016. White, who called the charges “bogus” at the time, reached an undisclosed settlement and the case was dropped, but for many, his snowboarding victory came cast against the backdrop of #MeToo and a dialogue about sexual harassment and assault.
At a news conference in Pyeongchang, about five hours after he’d landed what many have hailed as one of the best halfpipe runs the sport has seen, White was asked to address the twoyear-old allegations.
Matt Gutman of ABC News raised the question, asking about charges levied by Lena Zawaideh, who was the former drummer in his rock band. “You know, honestly, here to talk about the Olympics,” White said, “not gossip. But 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. I think that stands on its own.”
Zawaideh played in White’s band Bad Things, which released an album and played shows before the Sochi Olympics. She filed her lawsuit in May 2016.
In her complaint, she claimed White “repeatedly sexually harassed her and forced his authoritarian management style on her for over seven years.” Among the specific incidents cited, Zawaideh said White tried to kiss her a party, and sent inappropriate text messages, including photos that featured “engorged and erect penises.”
“Shaun took some kind of joy in seeing how much he could break me down and mess with me. I don’t know why, but every time he saw that I was uncomfortable with something, he would just keep going just to be like, ‘Can I break her?’ ” Zawaideh told Page Six at the time.
“That’s not acceptable for an employee, which I was. Contractually,” Zawaideh said.
A composite image shows American snowboarder Shaun White executing a backside double McTwist 1260 for his fourth trick in his gold-medal run in the men’s halfpipe final at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Wednesday.