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A day after Shaun White dismissed questions about his 2016 sexual assault case as “gossip,” the attorney of his accuser fired back, saying the three-time Olympic gold medalist “has minimized the problem of sexual harassment in this country,” per USA Today.
Lawrance Bohm represents Lena Zawaideh, a former drummer in White’s band. Zawaideh filed a suit against White in 2016, with allegations that White sent Zawaideh lewd text messages and forced her to watch sexually disturbing videos. After White contested the charges, he reached a settlement in May 2017, the terms of which have not been disclosed.
Until Tuesday night, the case had received relatively little attention. But at White’s press conference following his gold medal in the snowboard halfpipe, he referred to the allegations as “gossip” and refused to address any non-snowboarding questions. That led to Bohm releasing a statement on behalf of his client:
“There are powerful forces at play which prevent Ms. Zawaideh from speaking about the allegations and ultimate outcome of the sexual harassment case. Before Mr. White made his comment, Ms. Zawaideh believed that this matter was in the past, and she was happy to put the situation behind her so she can focus on her blossoming music career. Unfortunately, by his recent comments and conduct, Mr. White has minimized the problem of sexual harassment in this country.”
Bohm continued: “No woman wants to be called a ‘gossip’ or a liar by the harasser. 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 the hours following his press conference, White, 31, issued multiple apologies, first in a statement released to the media: “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.”
He then issued another apology on NBC’sToday: “I’m truly sorry that I chose the word gossip,” he said. “It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today. I’m just truly sorry. I was so overwhelmed with just wanting to talk about how amazing today was and share my experience, but yeah.”
More Olympic coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Shaun White apologizes for dismissing harassment question
• Jeff Passan: Reconciling harassment allegations with White’s Olympic gold
• Japanese star suffers brutal crash at Olympics
• More heartbreak for British speed skater: ‘It was taken away from me’
• Shaun White violates Flag Code after gold medal win