Shaun White’s third run during Tuesday’s men’s halfpipe finals was historic.
Through the eyes of snowboarding and Winter Games novices and pros alike, White achieved the impossible with a 97.75 score and earned his third goal medal at the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
Fans in the United States and all over the world saw White break down in tears, struck by his accomplishment and near flawless performance.
While nothing should take away from this moment, but the full picture of White needs to be addressed in light of the #MeToo movement.
The day of the halfpipe finals, a lawsuit filed in May 2016 by the former drummer of White’s band “Bad Things” that alleged several disgusting claims of sexual misconduct resurfaced along with the question, “Why has White been exempt from the #MeToo conversation?”
For months, women and victims of sexual violence have come forward against celebrities in Hollywood, politicians, coaches, general managers and one disgraced Olympic team doctor alleging sexual misconduct and society has mostly listened and done due diligence to investigate.
But when it comes to star athletes, the rules appear to be different.
The lawsuit, which was settled, alleged White became hostile after the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi and sent the former drummer pictures of male genitalia and several pornographic videos and referred to the victim as “bitch” regularly.
Many of the messages sent from White to the victim are on record and White has admitted to sending them.
The lawsuit also claims White forced the victim to drink vodka, to change clothes because they weren’t to his liking and stuck his hands in his pants and forced the victim to smell them among other claims.
The alleged victim sought wages in the lawsuit that were withheld from her during her time with “Bad Things.” The lawsuit claimed all members had pay taken away to cut costs in January 2014, but all pay was restored to the male members shortly after. The victim, the only female member of the band at the time, did not have her pay restored by White. The lawsuit states White “believed she ‘did not need the money.’”
White settled the lawsuit in May 2017.
After winning his third Olympic gold medal Tuesday, White attended a press conference where not one female reporter was called on by the U.S. Olympic Committee for the duration of White’s availability.
ABC News’ Matt Gutman who was called on asked White if he thought the allegations would tarnish his career. White brushed off the allegations from the lawsuit settled last May as “gossip”, even though— as stated above— he has admitted to sending lewd and suggestive items to the victim.
“I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip,” White said. “I don’t think (the allegations will tarnish my career). I am who I am and I’m proud of who I am and my friends love me and vouch for me.”
Gutman asked if White thought the allegations were merely “gossip” as a follow up, the U.S. Olympic Committee moderator brushed off the question and asked reporters to only ask about White’s gold medal.
The encounter from White’s press conference and tweets from sports journalists can be seen below:
Shaun White responds to questions about sexual misconduct allegations made against him in 2016 lawsuit: "I'm here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff." https://t.co/q8paxSc2Rd pic.twitter.com/FqV3nA5uIH— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) February 14, 2018
Shaun White just called the awful allegations against him “gossip” in a press conference where no woman journalist was called upon even though several, including me, had their hand up the entire time. #MeToo— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) February 14, 2018
Interesting. Amy Robach of GMA and Christine Brennan of USA Today both had hands raised entire Shaun White press conference. Not one woman was called on for a question. There were about 8 questions allowed. https://t.co/Sc2CSSukGg— Julie Foudy (@JulieFoudy) February 14, 2018
In response to my question whether sexual harassment claims against him would tarnish his legacy, @shaunwhite said he wouldn’t answer the question, called the allegations against him “gossip.” @cbrennansports notes not single female reporter allowed to ask a question at presser pic.twitter.com/sZAjmkchYj— Matt Gutman (@mattgutmanABC) February 14, 2018