White apol­o­gizes for com­ments on sex­ual mis­con­duct law­suit

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - SPORTS - By Jake Seiner

PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA » Shaun White apol­o­gized af­ter dis­miss­ing the sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions made against him in a 2016 law­suit as “gos­sip” shortly af­ter win­ning his third Olympic 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 Wed­nes­day, many on so­cial me­dia resur­faced the de­tails from the law­suit by a for­mer drum­mer in White’s rock band, Bad Things. Lena Zawaideh said White sex­u­ally ha­rassed her and re­fused to pay her wages af­ter he fired her. The law­suit was set­tled in May for an undis­closed amount.

White was asked dur­ing a news con­fer­ence 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 U.S. Snow­board­ing and Freeski­ing event di­rec­tor Nick Alex­akos shut them down.

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

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

White later said on NBC’s “To­day” show he used “a poor choice of words to de­scribe such a sen­si­tive sub­ject.”

“I’m just truly sorry,” he said. “I was so over­whelmed with just want­ing to talk about how amaz­ing to­day was and share my ex­pe­ri­ence.”

White also said he’s “grown as a per­son over the years” and is “proud of who I am to­day.”

Zawaideh’s at­tor­ney said in a state­ment Thurs­day the com­ments the snow­boarder made at the news con­fer­ence “di­rectly im­pugn” Zawaideh’s char­ac­ter. Lawrance Bohm from The Bohm Law Group said “Zawaideh be­lieved that this mat­ter was in the past” but “un­for­tu­nately, by his re­cent com­ments and con­duct, Mr. White has min­i­mized the prob­lem of sex­ual ha­rass­ment in this coun­try.”

Bohm said Zawaideh would not com­ment her­self.

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.

The law­suit said White grabbed Zawaideh’s but­tocks shortly af­ter leav­ing a band practice and that he once shoved a bot­tle of vodka into her mouth and forced her to drink from it. It also said that “White stuck his hands down his pants, ap­proached Zawaideh, and stuck his hands in her face try­ing to make her smell them.” The law­suit also said White tried to kiss Zawaideh at a Hal­loween party.

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