Shaun White, the man who beat Australia’s Scotty James to the Olympic snowboard halfpipe gold medal, has been forced to apologise after dismissing sexual harassment allegations as “gossip”.
After claiming his third Olympic gold medal with a near-perfect display in Pyeongchang, his performance was overshadowed by the re-emergence of a sexual misconduct lawsuit filed in 2016.
When asked if the allegations tarnished his record, White, 31, attracted widespread condemnation by dismissing the lawsuit as “gossip” at a post-event media conference.
“Honestly, I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not you know, not gossip,” he deflected.
“I am who I am and I’m proud of who I am. And my friends you know love me and vouch for me and I think that stands on its own.”
Prominent #MeToo activists, including Alyssa Milano, criticised him for downplaying a serious issue and branded his response as “super disturbing”.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) February 13, 2018
#ShaunWhite wins his 3rd Gold Medal at the #WinterOlympics But before you start cheering, you must read the shocking allegations of sexual harassment involving a female member of his band contained in a lawsuit she filed in 2016. Disgusting! #MeToo https://t.co/MIIo2XoCjJ
— Areva Martin, Esq. (@ArevaMartin) February 14, 2018
— Megan Greenwell (@megreenwell) February 14, 2018
In 2016, the Olympian, who also plays rock guitar, was sued by former Bad Things bandmate Lena Zawaideh who claimed he had “repeatedly sexually harassed her and forced his authoritarian management style on her for over seven years.”
At the time White called the accusations “bogus”, before he and Zawaideh reached an out-of-court settlement in May 2017.
White, Olympic snowboarding’s most successful star, apologised late Wednesday for his choice of words in an appearance on NBC’s Today Show.
“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.” @shaunwhite on his remarks at news conference when asked about harassment case pic.twitter.com/5q9jyCL61m
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 14, 2018
“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 and I’m just truly sorry,” he said.
“I was just so overwhelmed with just wanting to talk about how amazing today was and share my experience.
“It’s amazing how life works in twists and turns and lessons learned so every experience in my live I feel has taught me a lesson and I feel a more changed person than when I was younger, and I’m proud of who I am today.”