Shaun White apologizes, calls behavior regrettable; lawyer critical of 'gossip' comment
The lawyer for Lena Zawaideh, who sued Shaun White in 2016 for sexual harassment, said in a statement Wednesday night that the Olympic gold medalist's words, on the world stage, impugned his client's character and minimized the problem of sexual harassment in the United States.
"No woman wants to be called a 'gossip' or a liar by the harasser," Lawrance 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."
White has been the world's dominant snowboarder for more than a decade, winning halfpipe gold medals in 2006, 2010 and again this year in South Korea, 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. 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 after winning gold on Wednesday 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.''
White apologized on NBC's "Today" show for using the word "gossip," and he expressed regret for his actions in a statement to ESPN.
"Representing Team USA at the Olympics in a sport that I love is a true honor and I was thrilled to win gold," he said. "I regret my behavior many years ago and am sorry that I made anyone -- particularly someone I considered a friend -- uncomfortable. I have grown and changed as a person, as we all grow and change, and am proud of who I am today."
Information from ESPN's Alyssa Roenigk and The Associated Press was used in this report.