Olympic gold medalist Shaun White has issued an apology for referring to his sexual harassment case as “gossip” following his third Olympic gold medal in the men’s halfpipe on Wednesday.
During his run in yesterday’s competition, details from the old lawsuit resurfaced on social media which prompted reporters to ask if the allegations might tarnish his reputation. White responded, “I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff,” he said. “I don’t think so.”
The 31-year old snowboarding legend was sued by Lena Zawaideh, a former drummer in his rock band, Bad Things, who claimed he sexually harassed her and refused to pay her wages after he fired her. According to ABC News, the lawsuit was settled in May for an undisclosed amount.
After White referred to the case as “gossip” reporters tried to follow up but he quickly left the stage to get to the medal ceremony. He later issued an apology on NBC’s Today Show, saying he used “a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject.”
“I’m truly sorry that I chose the word ‘gossip’ because it’s a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today. I’m just truly sorry,” he told anchors Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie. “I was so overwhelmed with just wanting to talk about how amazing today was and share my experience.”
According to ABC News, Zawaideh claimed that White “repeatedly sexually harassed her, forced her to watch pornography and told her how to get her hair cut.” The lawsuit also alleges that White once forced her to drink a bottle of vodka and that he “stuck his hands down his pants, approached Zawaideh, and stuck his hands in her face trying to make her smell them.”