Shaun White Apologizes for His Sexual Harassment Allegations

Even if you’re not a fan of snowboarding, you’re probably aware that Shaun White won a gold medal in the Winter Olympics halfpipe competition. If you were watching the live coverage on NBC, you may have gasped – or not – when, while celebrating his win, White dragged the U.S. flag along the ground.

Social media was immediately abuzz about it.

At a news conference the next day, White apologized. “I was trying to put my gloves on and hold the flag and the board,” he said. “Honestly, if there was anything, I definitely didn’t mean any disrespect.”

Speaking of disrespect, something else White did but had not apologized for wasn’t getting nearly as much attention — until that same week.

Two years ago, Lena Zawaideh, who was employed by White as the drummer for his band Bad Things, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. She alleged that White forced her to watch sexually disturbing videos, made vulgar sexual remarks about her relationship with her boyfriend, and sent her text messages containing images of penises. Screenshots of the texts were included as exhibits in the lawsuit.

White denied these claims, with the exception of the explicit text messages. “Many years ago, I exchanged texts with a friend who is now using them to craft a bogus lawsuit,” he said at the time.

In February 2017, he requested that the court require Zawaideh to undergo a mental health evaluation, but then the lawsuit was settled three months later for an undisclosed amount.

In that same news conference during which White apologized about dragging the flag, he was asked about the lawsuit and whether he thought it would tarnish his legacy.

“Honestly, I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip,” he replied. “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.”

Prior to the #MeToo movement, White’s dismissive response would likely have been accepted and the lawsuit would have stayed out of the public eye. But not now.

Zawaideh’s lawyer, Lawrance Bohm, told USA TODAY Sports there were “powerful forces at play” preventing his client from speaking about the lawsuit, so he responded on her behalf.

“No woman wants to be called a ‘gossip’ or a liar by the harasser,” Bohm said in a statement. “Minimizing sexual harassment maximizes the harm to Ms. Zawaideh. Hopefully, before our country declares someone ‘the best of the U.S.,’ there will be investigation and due diligence.”

In an appearance on the “Today” show, which, ironically, fired host Matt Lauer a few months ago for sexual misconduct, White apologized for referring to Zawaideh’s allegations as gossip, but not for the allegations. “It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today,” he said.

It took less than a day for White to apologize for dragging the flag. It took years for him to finally issue an apology to Zawaideh.

“I regret my behavior many years ago and am sorry that I made anyone — particularly someone I considered a friend — uncomfortable,” he said in a statement Feb. 14. “I have grown and changed as a person, as we all grow and change, and am proud of who I am today.”

As Jerry Brewer of the Washington Post points out, unlike others who have been accused of misconduct, White is not going to disappear from the spotlight. He plans to compete as a skateboarder in the 2020 Olympics and perhaps again as a snowboarder in 2022.

As White continues to grow and change and be proud of himself, “Only then will we know what was more genuine: his apology or the remark he was apologizing for,” Brewer wrote.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

106 comments

Chad Anderson
Chad A1 months ago

Thank you.

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Jack Y
Jack Y2 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y2 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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DAVID fleming
Dave f2 months ago

THANK YOU

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie2 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie2 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie2 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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DAVID fleming
Dave f2 months ago

TY

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