PHOTO: NY Post
By Elisha Fieldstadt, NBC News
A TV news reporter who was covering a road race in Georgia when she was slapped on the backside by a runner is seeking criminal charges against the man she said “violated” her.
Alex Bozarjian filed a sexual battery report with the Savannah Police Department on Monday, saying she wanted the department to pursue charges against the man, identified as Thomas Callaway. The department told NBC News on Wednesday that a detective has been assigned and the matter is under investigation.
Bozarjian was live on air Saturday covering the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run for NBC affiliate WSAV when a few runners snuck into her shot, distracting her by waving behind her, but never touching her.
Then, a male runner suddenly slaps her on the buttocks. Bozarjian pauses in shock before completing her sentence as the man runs on.
“To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me,” Bozarjian, 23, tweeted later in the day with a recording of the broadcast. “No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!! Do better.” The tweet has been retweeted nearly 200,000 times.
Bozarjian said on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday that the tweet struck a chord because “the emotion is extreme relatable for women all over the world.”
“What is comes down to is that he helped himself to a part of my body,” she said, adding that not only was the slap a violation, it was physically painful.
“He separates himself from the runners and he kind of winds up and, you know, he hit me hard,” Bozarjian said. “It was a heavy impact.”
Callaway called WSAV twice to apologize to Bozarjian, saying he did not intend to cause her pain, according to a police report that cites Bozarjian.
“You know, I’m not really going to debate that because he hurt me,” Bozarjian said.
While Bozarjian said she has received an “outpouring of support,” she said some on social media have blamed her for the incident, saying she put herself “in the line of fire.”
“Maybe that comes from a misunderstanding of what live reporting is,” Bozarjian said.
Savannah Sports Council, which sponsored the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run, said Callaway would be banned from all future races.
Callaway told WSAV that he accepts the ban, and he is sorry, the outlet reported.
“I’m thankful for this opportunity to share my apology,” Callaway said. “It was an awful act and an awful mistake.”
“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,” he said.
Bozarjian said she is considering whether to accept Callaway’s apology.
“I think what is most important here is that he took my power, and I’m trying to take that back. And whether I am open to it or not, I want to take my time with that,” Bozarjian said.