SAVANNAH, Ga. — A local news reporter in Georgia has filed a sexual battery report with the Savannah Police Department after a man smacked her buttocks live on air as she was covering a marathon — a man who turns out to be a youth minister at a United Methodist church.
“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,” Alex Bozarjian of WSAV-TV wrote to Twitter on Dec. 7.
Bozarjian was covering the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run live on air last Saturday, and several runners waved at the camera as they passed by.
However, one man suddenly slapped the reporter on the bottom as he passed by. Bozarjian, being taken off guard by the incident, had a look of shock and annoyance come over her face for a moment before she tried to move on with the news segment.
Tommy Callaway of Pittman Park United Methodist Church in Statesville has since come forward and admits that the act was in poor judgment, but also states that he didn’t realize he touched her behind.
“I was caught up in the moment,” he told Inside Edition. “I was getting ready to bring my hands up and wave to the camera and to the audience, and there was a misjudge in character and decision-making. I touched her back. I did not know exactly where I touched her.”
Callaway is reportedly a married father of two, a smokeless tobacco salesman and a Boy Scout leader. He has already been banned from participating in any future races, as per the Savannah Sports Council, and Bozarjian has filed a sexually battery report with the Savannah Police Department.
“It’s not okay to help yourself to a woman’s body just because you feel like it,” she told CBS News This Morning on Tuesday. “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 kind of chip away at this toxic culture that permeates our society.”
Callaway did seek to contact Bozarjian to apologize, and his attorney, Joseph Turner, says that there was no criminal intent involved. The runner says that if he had seen her face after the incident, he would have apologized on the spot.
“I did not see her facial reaction. I just kept on running,” he told Inside Edition. “And if I did see her facial reaction, I would have been embarrassed, I would have felt ashamed and I would have stopped and turned around and went back and apologized to her.”
Bozarjian says that it does not matter what Callaway’s intentions were as the act itself was hurtful. She states that she wants to take her time in considering whether or not to accept his apology.
“I think what is most important here is that he took my power, and I’m trying to take that back,” the reporter told CBS. “And whether I am open to it or not, I want to take my time with that.”
Callaway says he “feels horrible” about the matter and that his behavior was out of character.
“I’m thankful for this opportunity to share my apology,” he told WSAV. “It was an awful act and an awful mistake. … [But] I am not that person that people are portraying me as. I make mistakes, I’m not perfect and I’m asking for forgiveness and to accept my apology.”
An inquiry to Pittman Park United Methodist Church was not answered as of press time, but Callaway’s name does not appear on the church website.