Man accused of smacking reporter’s backside on live TV is charged

Thomas Callaway is charged with sexual battery over incident during race in Georgia

A participant in a race in Georgia has been accused of smacking a reporter covering the event on the rear. File photograph: Getty Images

A participant in a race in Georgia has been accused of smacking a reporter covering the event on the rear. File photograph: Getty Images

 

Alex Bozarjian, a reporter for WSAV-TV in Savannah, Georgia, was laughing and smiling as she updated viewers on the latest at the 2019 Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run on December 7th.

Runners darted by, making silly faces and waving their hands to the camera during her live broadcast. Suddenly, Ms Bozarjian’s expression changed from one of joy to disbelief. A passing runner appeared to have slapped her on the rear. She looked shocked and upset as she tried to compose herself on camera. Mouth agape, she was speechless for about three seconds.

Bozarjian (23), a multimedia journalist at the station, posted a video clip of the episode on Twitter, where it drew outrage. “To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me,” she wrote. “No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!”

The man, Thomas Callaway, was charged by police on Friday with misdemeanour sexual battery, Bianca Johnson, a Savannah Police Department spokeswoman, said.

Mr Callaway (43) turned himself in to detectives, was booked at the Chatham County Jail and was released on $1,300 (about €1,200) bond, Ms Johnson said.

The Savannah Sports Council, which organised the run, said on Twitter the day after the event that it was helping Ms Bozarjian and the television station to identify the runner, and stated: “We will not tolerate behaviour like this at a Savannah Sports Council event. We have made the decision to ban this individual from registering for all Savannah Sports Council-owned races.”

Mr Callaway spoke to WSAV and apologised, saying he regretted what he had done. “It was an awful act and an awful mistake,” he told the station. “I make mistakes, I’m not perfect, and I’m asking for forgiveness and to accept my apology.”

After Mr Callaway’s arrest, WSAV issued a statement.

“This conduct displayed toward Alex Bozarjian during her live coverage of Saturday’s Savannah Bridge Run was reprehensible and completely unacceptable,” the statement, issued on Friday, said. “WSAV continues to support Alex completely as this case moves forward.” – New York Times