Inside Olympian Shaun Whites Disturbing Sexual-Harassment Case

Every two years, the Olympics manage to make our scary, disconnected world a little bit better, uniting audiences through awe and a shared desire to ogle IOC-approved hotties. Unlike most trending topics in 2018, the Olympics is feel-good through and through. Even the most jaded Americans will find themselves cheering on Chloe Kim, looking up clips of Mirai Nagasus historic triple axel, and developing an encyclopedic knowledge of the mens figure skating scoring system so as to best complain about the snubbing of Adam Rippon.

Amidst all of this patriotism and good cheer, its easy to elevate every Team USA member to god-like status. After all, these athletes can do things on ice, snow, and skates that the rest of us could only dream of doing on the ground. For a textbook example of an American Olympic athlete assuming mythic proportions, look no further than snowboarder Shaun White.

NBC promoted its Winter Olympics coverage with a Super Bowl ad devoted entirely to the two-time Olympic gold medalist. The ad highlights Whites single-minded purpose as he prepares for Pyeongchang. The Super Bowl spot concludes, Shaun White is the best of U.S. It makes sense that NBC would invest heavily in the Shaun White story; the only thing that makes a proven winner more compelling is a comeback, and White certainly has something to prove in the wake of scoring in fourth place at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. According to Slate, White is the star of NBCs Olympics show, and his victory, according to the network, would be one of the great triumphs of the Winter Games.

But just as a re-centering of womens voices and experiences has called various powerful men into question, an honest assessment of Team USA would tack an asterisk on to all of Shaun Whites promotional material. White, like many successful and celebrated men, has reached a settlement in a sexual harassment case. Disappointingly, NBC has entirely failed to mention these allegations in its Shaun White coverage. While it is clearly within NBCs interests to slalom around this potential scandal, its rather shocking that, according to Slate, No major news outlet mentioned the harassment suit between May 2017 and last week, when New York magazines the Cut released a video titled, Snowboarding Superstar Shaun White Was Accused of Sexual Harassment.

In 2016, Lena Zawaideh sued Shaun White, alleging sexual harassment, wrongful termination and nonpayment of wages, among other complaints. Zawaideh was the drummer and only female member of Shaun Whites rock band, Bad Things, for seven years. According to USA Today, Zawaideh initially sued for breach of contract in May, but by August her lawyers had filed an extensive new complaint seeking both punitive and compensatory damages. That complaint alleged that White repeatedly sexually harassed [Zawaideh] and forced his authoritarian management style on her for over seven years.

According to the suit, White sent sexually explicit and graphic images to Zawaideh of engorged and erect penises, forced her to watch sexually disturbing videos, including videos sexualizing human fecal matter, and made vulgar sexual remarks to her such as, Dont forget to suck his balls! when commenting on her boyfriend. At one point, White stuck his hands down his pants, approached Zawaideh, and stuck his hands in her face trying to make her smell them. The offending texts sent by White also included arguably racist, explicit images of black men. The complaint further alleged that an intoxicated White attempted to kiss Zawaideh at a Halloween party in October 2010; Another time, White put his buttocks directly in Zawaidehs face. Still another time, White grabbed Zawaidehs buttocks shortly after leaving practice for the day.

The filing additionally stated that, As the financier of Bad Things, White used his role to imposed a strict regime over Zawaideh, going so far as to demand that she cut her hair, wear sexually revealing clothes and underwear, and refrain from wearing red lipstickher own personal signature.

Images of the texts that White allegedly sent Zawaideh were included as exhibits in her new complaint. One of the explicit texts is a pornographic image paired with an exhortation to be a team player. Another text from Shaun reads, I need u to go out in the morning and have your hair cut in a new style at shoulder or above but keep your bangs. This is really important to me. When Zawaideh responds that shes confident and happy with her long hair and not willing to cut it, he replies, Thats disappointingare u sure this is the decision u want to make later clarifying, your decision to not do what Im asking.

According to the complaint, this exchange occurred the night before Bad Things last show of their 2014 tour. At the end of the tour, Zawaideh went home with the assumption that she was still a member of the band. After not hearing from White for some time, Zawaideh was informed by another Bad Things member that the band continued to rehearse and perform without her, according to the suit. Zawaideh was later informed by the bands new manager that White decided to part ways with her. In the complaint, she alleged that she never received any of her contractual payments for 2014.

Zawaideh also claimed that, during their regular band practices, White consistently acted inappropriately.

The complaint continued, White would constantly refer to Zawaideh as bitch and show her sexually explicit images and videos. For example, at one point,WhiteyelledouttoZawaideh, Hey, have you seen this video?! White then proceeded toshow Zawaideh the Shake That Bear video on his computer. Shake That Bear is a disturbing video of a couple killing a bear and then having sex on top of it.Another time, White called Zawaideh over and forced her to watch Church of Fudge. Church of Fudge is a video where the viewer is subjected to hardcore porn involving a priest, anun and fecal matter. This behavior made Zawaideh feel extremely uncomfortable. However, Zawaideh would acquiesce because she did not want to cause problems in the band or be terminated. Zawaideh was only seventeen or eighteen years old at the time. White was twenty-two or twenty-three years old.

Other anecdotes from the complaint alleged threatening behavior. Around March 2014, after failing to win a medal at the Olympics, the suit claimed that White became increasingly hostile: For example, on a few occasions when the band was practicing, White gestured that he wasgoing to backhand Zawaideh. He yelled out uncalled for remarks such as, Ill fucking slap you.Zawaideh was fearful that White would hit her.

In response to Zawaidehs allegations, White confessed to sending the texts and issued the following statement through his attorney: 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."

Zawaideh issued her own statement, insisting, I am pursuing this case because women should not have to tolerate harassment at work. Shaun White should not be allowed to do whatever he wants just because he is famous. Although I am embarrassed to have been treated this way, I cannot sit by and watch him do this to other women.

According to USA Today, the snowboarder vigorously contested the suit and requested that Zawaideh undergo a mental health examination in response to her claims of emotional and mental distress. White later withdrew that request, and in May 2017 it was reported that White and Zawaideh had reached an undisclosed settlement.

Less than a year later, is Shaun White really the best of the U.S.?

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Damian Green sacked as first secretary of state after porn allegations

Green admits he made misleading statements after pornography was found on Commons computer in 2008

Damian Green has been sacked as first secretary of state after admitting he lied about the presence of pornographic images on his House of Commons computer.

An investigation by the cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, found that Greens vehement denials after a Sunday newspaper reported that porn had been found on his computer were inaccurate and misleading.

His departure is a personal blow for Theresa May, who brought him into Downing Street after her majority was wiped out in Junes general election to help shore up her authority.

He is the third cabinet minister to step aside since early November, following the departures of Michael Fallon and Priti Patel.

In a letter responding to his resignation, the prime minister said she was extremely sad about losing Green from government. May said it was with deep regret and enduring gratitude for the contribution you have made over many years that I asked you to resign from the government and have accepted your resignation.

In his resignation letter, Green continued to maintain that he did not download or view the pornography, but added that he should have been clear in my press statements, that his lawyers were informed about its presence in 2008 and that he discussed it with the police in 2013.

Heywood found Green had twice breached the ministerial code, because his misleading comments had fallen short of the seven principles of public life, one of which is honesty.

He was unable to reach a definitive conclusion on separate allegations, made by the Tory activist Kate Maltby, that Green had behaved improperly towards her.

The cabinet secretarys report found that Maltbys account of a disputed meeting was plausible, but with competing and contradictory accounts of what were private meetings, it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion.

The investigation was led by cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood. Photograph: Press Association

In his letter, Green said: I deeply regret the distress caused to Kate Maltby following her article and the reaction to it. I do not recognise the events she described in her article, but I clearly made her feel uncomfortable and I apologise.

Maltby did not comment publicly on Wednesday evening, but her parents, Colin and Victoria Maltby, released a statement: We are pleased that the Cabinet Office has concluded its inquiry into the conduct of Damian Green. We are not surprised to find that the inquiry found Mr Green to have been untruthful as a minister, nor that they found our daughter to be a plausible witness.

We have received many supportive messages from people near and far who appreciate Kates courage and the importance of speaking out about the abuse of authority. We join with them in admiring her fortitude and serenity throughout the length of the investigation and despite the attempted campaign in certain sections of the media to denigrate and intimidate her and other witnesses. We are proud of her.

In her letter to Green, May welcomed the fact that he had apologised to Maltby.

Speaking on Thursday morning, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, acknowledged that Green had been sacked for lying, adding: I think lots of people who understand the context would appreciate why that might have happened. But that doesnt make it any more acceptable.

He told BBC Radio 4s Today programme the episode showed that cabinet ministers were held to the very highest standard of conduct. But, he said: I think we should probably remember that those are standards that would probably not apply in other countries.

Labours Jess Phillips told the same programme the decision had taken too long and that the allegations made by Maltby were still hanging over Green.

The investigation said that Kate Maltby was credible and plausible and what they found that they couldnt prove was the sexual harassment charge.

However, Im not convinced by that. Ive seen all of the evidence thats in the public domain: text messages between Damian Green and Kate Maltby, text messages between Kate Maltby and her friends at the time, saying how uncomfortable shed felt, whether she felt she had to report it.

She said that, although it was not officially acknowledged, she believed those allegations had contributed to Mays decision to sack Green.

The prime minister also used her letter to criticise the conduct of police officers who carried out the raid on Greens parliamentary office in 2008, when the pornography was discovered, and revealed aspects of the case to the media in recent weeks.

I shared the concerns raised from across the political spectrum when your parliamentary office was raided in 2008 when you were a shadow minister holding the Labour government to account, she said. Greens office was raided as police investigated a series of leaks from inside the Home Office.

The allegations about porn being found on his computer were the latest chapter in a long-running feud between Green and Bob Quick, the former assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, who oversaw the raid almost a decade ago.

Following a Sunday Times report last month claiming there was extreme pornography on his parliamentary computer, which quoted Quick, Green issued a hard-hitting late night statement branding him a tainted and untrustworthy source who had been trying for some time to cause him political damage.

He dismissed the porn allegations as false, disreputable political smears from a discredited police officer acting in flagrant breach of his duty and little more than an unscrupulous character assassination. Quick subsequently threatened to sue Green for libel.

May was handed Heywoods report on Monday, and subsequently sought a second opinion from Sir Alex Allan, the prime ministers independent adviser on ministers interests.

Quick guide

Damian Green’s comments on the porn allegations

What Damian Green said:

4 November

The police have never suggested to me that improper material was found on my parliamentary computer, nor did I have a private computer, as has been claimed.

“The allegations about the material and computer, now nine years old, are false, disreputable political smears from a discredited police officer acting in flagrant breach of his duty to keep the details of police investigations confidential, and amount to little more than an unscrupulous character assassination.”

11 November

“I reiterate that no allegations about the presence of improper material on my parliamentary computers have ever been put to me or to the parliamentary authorities by the police. I can only assume that they are being made now, nine years later, for ulterior motives.”

20 December

I accept that I should have been clear in my press statements that police lawyers talked to my lawyers in 2008 about the pornography on the computers, and that the police raised it with me in a subsequent phone call in 2013.

“I apologise that my statements were misleading on this point. The unfounded and deeply hurtful allegations that were being levelled at me were distressing both to me and my family and it is right that these are being investigated by the Metropolitan polices professional standards department.

Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP

A summary of the investigation, released by No 10 on Wednesday night, said: Mr Greens statements of 4 and 11 November, which suggested that he was not aware that indecent material was found on parliamentary computers in his office, were inaccurate and misleading, as the Metropolitan police service had previously informed him of the existence of this material.

As first secretary of state, Green effectively acted as deputy prime minister, standing in for May at prime ministers questions and sitting alongside her on the frontbench in the Commons.

Green was a friend of Mays from when the pair were at Oxford University together, and one of a handful of older ministers she brought back into government when she arrived in Downing Street in July last year and dispatched many of David Camerons allies to the backbenches.

May flies to Poland at the start of a two-day foreign trip on Thursday, and is not expected to appoint a replacement for Green until parliament returns from its Christmas recess in the new year.

She is then expected to carry out a wider reshuffle, bringing some of the new generation of Conservative MPs into the cabinet in order to refresh the government.

The allegations about Green emerged as women began to share their experiences of sexual misconduct in political life after the revelations of inappropriate behaviour by media mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Fallon stepped down as defence secretary after admitting he had not met the standards required of the armed forces of which he was in charge, after the journalist Jane Merrick said he had lunged at her after a lunch.

Several other investigations are continuing, including that into trade minister Mark Garnier, who admitted asking an assistant to buy sex toys.

Green has continued to carry out his ministerial duties since the investigation was announced, and colleagues including the Brexit secretary, David Davis supported him in the face of the allegations made by the police officers.

A retired Met detective, Neil Lewis, went public with claims that thousands of thumbnail images of legal pornography had been found.

Following Lewis and Quicks interventions, Cressida Dick, the Mets commissioner, said former officers who spoke out about investigations could face prosecution.

Labour said it was right that May had finally been forced to sack Green. A spokesperson said: The public deserve the highest standards from ministers, which begs questions around the prime ministers judgment and why she delayed this decision for so long. To lose her number two in government in such a way, and so soon after two other ministers, leaves her further weakened.

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