Who doesn’t know snowboarder Shaun White? He's the record-breaking, two-time Olympic gold medalist, who is once again leading the competition in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
However, all his athletic achievements mean nothing in light of the fact that White allegedly sexually harassed and verbally abused a former drummer of his band for years — and remains unapologetic to this day.
In May 2016, Lena Zawaideh, the only female member of the electronic rock band, Bad Things, sued White. The now-snowboarder founded the group and was also its guitarist.
In her 76-page lawsuit, Zawaideh recounted the disgusting ordeal she reportedly endured for seven years at the hands of White, starting from when she was just 17 or 18 years old.
The former drummer claimed White first pressured her into joining the band and when she caved in, tried to control her appearance and sent her pornographic images. White allegedly sent her sexually explicit images of “engorged and erect penises” and pushed disturbing videos on her, including one involving a priest and nun “sexualizing human fecal matter.” She was also forced into watching a gruesome video of a couple killing a bear and then having sex on top of it.
Lena Zawaideh who sued Olympic champion Shaun White for sexual harassment pic.twitter.com/VhQF4ASzA7— Molly Shah (@MollyOShah) December 6, 2017
Zawaideh, who was still in her teens at the time, went along with this because “she did not want to cause problems with the band or be terminated.”
Zawaideh said White knew these actions made her very uncomfortable but he kept doing them anyway.
At one time, the woman alleged White put his hands down his pants, approached Zawaideh and then shoved them in her face. He also tried to kiss her during a Halloween party in 2010 but she managed to stop him.
Apart from these claims, Zawaideh said White bullied the band members, ordering her to cut her hair in a specific style and to wear see-through, sexually provocative clothing and once scolded her for wearing a fleece sweater.
After the debacle with her haircut, White refused to talk to Zawaideh for a whole day. He then terminated pay for all band members, then restored the previously contracted $3,750 for all members — except for Zawaideh. She then received a call from White’s manager that she was no longer part of the band without giving her a reason why.
She sued White for sexual harassment, wage nonpayment, wrongful termination and other violations of the labor code.
White strongly contested the lawsuit and once even tried to force Zawaideh to undergo a psychological assessment after she said his actions resulted in emotional stress for her.
A spokesperson for White said about his NSFW messages, “Many years ago, I exchanged texts with a friend who is now using them to craft a bogus lawsuit. There is absolutely no coincidence to the timing of her claims, and we will defend them vigorously in court.”
White later settled with Zawaideh for an undisclosed amount.
However, only a couple of years later, it seems all of this is just water under the bridge for the media. White has been allowed to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics, despite the severity of the allegations. A person like this should not be decorated and should certainly not be given gold medals. In fact, he should not even be allowed to participate in major sporting events.
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Mike Blake