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Shaun White Says He 'Regrets' Past Behavior As Sexual Harassment Claims Resurface
The Olympic gold medal winner apologized for calling the claims "gossip."
Shaun White won another gold medal at the Winter Olympics. On the heels of the win, the snowboarder was asked about past sexual harassment allegations against him. According to The New York Times, the 31-year-old first passed off the allegations as "gossip."
“I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip,” he said, when asked by an ABC News reporter. “My friends, you know, love me and vouch for me, and I think that stands on its own,” he added. In the past, White has dismissed the accusations.
The allegations stem from an encounter with Lena Zawaideh, the former drummer of White’s rock band Bad Things. In 2016, Zawaideh filed a lawsuit against him claiming that he had sexually harassed her and tried to control her, including “impose a strict regime” over her, requesting that she cut her hair and to wear revealing clothing and underwear. In the lawsuit, White allegedly made vulgar sexual remarks to Zawaideh and sent her sexually explicit images of “engorged and erect penises." He also forced her to watch sexually disturbing videos.
In May 2017, the lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount.
After dismissing the allegations, White opened up in a statement to The Times shortly after.
He apologized for using the word "gossip" in reference to the allegations, saying, “I regret my behavior of many years ago and am sorry that I made anyone — particularly someone I considered a friend — uncomfortable.”
He continued, "I have grown and changed as a person, as we all grow and change, and am proud of who I am today.”
The medal winner later spoke with NBC's "Today" show and was conciliatory.
“I’m truly sorry that I used the word ‘gossip,’” he said. “It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today.” He said he was “overwhelmed” by his medal victory when asked about the matter earlier in Pyeongchang.
In 2016, Zawaideh shared a statement per The Cut: "I am pursuing this case because women should not have to tolerate harassment at work. Shaun White should not be allowed to do whatever he wants just because he is famous. Although I am embarrassed to have been treated this way, I cannot sit by and watch him do this to other women."
As NBC News shared, a renewed interest in the case has surfaced amid the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
[Photo: Getty Images]