Shaun White apologizes for referring to sexual harassment lawsuit as 'gossip'

Shaun White has apologized for referring to a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him as “gossip” during a news conference at the Olympics.

White, hours after winning his third Olympic gold medal in the snowboard halfpipe, was asked about the allegations, which re-surfaced as a topic of discussion this week. He evaded the question, and refused to take follow-ups.

Later that night, though, he went on the “Today Show” to address both the lawsuit and his earlier comments about it. “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 wanting to talk about how amazing today was, and wanting to share my experience.”

Today host Savannah Guthrie followed up by asking White if there was anything else he wanted to say, and whether or not he’s learned from the harassment case. (The lawsuit was settled last year.)

“Yeah, you know, I’ve grown as a person over the years,” White responded. “And it’s amazing … how life works, the twists and turns and lessons learned. Every experience in my life, I feel like it’s taught me a lesson. And I definitely feel like I’m a much more changed person than I was when I was younger. And yeah, I’m proud of who I am today.”

Back in 2016, White was accused of harassment by Lena Zawaideh, the former drummer in his band. Zawaideh alleged that White had texted her pictures of penises, shown her pornographic videos, demanded that she wear revealing clothes and, among other things, stuck his hands down his pants and then in her face.

The lawsuit was settled last May, but became a topic of the discussion during the Olympics when several media outlets ran stories on it.

After White won his gold, a reporter asked the 31-year-old whether he thought the lawsuit would tarnish his legacy. He responded with the “gossip” comment, a brief answer and then a refusal to answer more questions about the allegations.

Shaun White was criticized for comments after winning his third Olympic gold medal Wednesday in PyeongChang. (Getty)
Shaun White was criticized for comments after winning his third Olympic gold medal Wednesday in PyeongChang. (Getty)

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