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American man slaps reporter on the butt on live TV, says he was ‘caught up in the moment’

The reporter has spoken out on the harassment.

Jane Zhang | December 11, 2019 @ 06:12 pm

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An American reporter has spoken out about her experience of being touched inappropriately while reporting on live TV.

23-year-old Alex Bozarjian was covering the annual Savannah Bridge Run in Savannah, Georgia on Saturday, Dec. 7 when she was slapped on the backside by a participant in the race.

The participant has since been identified as 43-year-old Tommy Callaway.

Caught on live TV

One Twitter user, Tonya (@GrrrlZilla) shared a clip of the vulgar act, which has since been viewed more than 11 million times:

In the 16-second clip, Bozarjian is seen laughing as one runner in a gorilla suit runs by, waving.

She exclaimed, “Woah, not expecting that!”

Other runners passed by her and waved to the camera as she continued reporting on the event.

Bozarjian was halfway through enthusiastically saying, “Some people dress up in costume, so it’s very exciting…” when Callaway ran by wearing a blue long-sleeved shirt, leaned toward her, and slapped her backside with his right hand.

Bozarjian stopped speaking abruptly with a shocked look on her face, staring in Callaway’s direction.

She appeared to try to collect herself and continue with her broadcast, saying, “It’s very exciting…” but her voice was audibly  shaky.

Public response

Bozarjian took to Twitter to address the situation, writing:

“To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me. No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!! Do better.”

Many people came to her support, condemning the man’s actions and demanding accountability from him.

Robert Wells (@RobWells1), whose Twitter biography identifies him as the director of the Savannah Sports Council, the organiser of the event, also shared his support and promised to identify the man:

Married and father of two

According to People, Callaway is a youth minister, Boy Scouts leader, and married father of two.

Tommy Callaway interview
Image screen captured from Inside Edition interview

Speaking to Inside Edition, he claimed that the incident was a “misjudge in character” and that he had not intentionally harmed Bozarjian:

“I was caught up in the moment. I was getting ready to bring my hands up and wave to the camera to the audience, there was a misjudge in character and decision-making. I touched her back; I did not know exactly where I touched her.”

Callaway’s lawyer, Joseph Turner, issued a statement on Monday, Dec.9 describing Callaway as “a loving father” and “very active in the community.”

He also added that Callaway “did not act with any criminal intentions” and that they do not expect criminal charges to rise from the incident.

Police report

Buzzfeed News reported that the Savannah Police Department has confirmed that a police report has been filed.

The Savannah Sports Council also announced that Callaway has been banned from all future races organised by them.

When asked in an interview with CBS This Morning whether she would be willing to consider Callaway’s apology, Bozarjian said:

“I think what’s most important here is that he took my power, and I’m trying to take that back.

Whether I’m open to that or not, I want to take my time with that. I think what it really comes down to is, he helped himself to a part of my body.”

She also shared in the same interview that she had felt inundated with a sense of “female guilt” due to some negative replies that she has received from people telling her to accept the apology, that the situation was her fault, and that she put herself “in the line of fire”.

But to the people blaming her, she replied:

It’s not okay to help yourself to a woman’s body just because you feel like it. It’s not playful — he hurt me, both physically and emotionally. And I think, in order to make any kind of change, you have to be a little bit drastic. And you have to chip away at this toxic culture that permeates our society.

Top image collage via Twitter/GrrrlZilla and Inside Edition.

 

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