Last Saturday a reporter with WSAV-TV in Savannah, Georgia, Alex Bozarjian, was covering the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run. As she was doing an on-air report at the end of the race, one of the runners deliberately smacked her on her behind. The unexpected assault was delivered with such force that she paused her reporting and had to compose herself to continue.
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. https://t.co/PRLXkBY5hn
— Alex Bozarjian (@wsavalexb) December 7, 2019
It is bad enough that a random runner made a decision to put his hand on a reporter’s rear end, so imagine the surprise of Savannahians to learn the identity of the man – Thomas Callaway. He was identified by his bib number. Runners register for these races, so no one is anonymous. Callaway, as it turned out, was a Boy Scout leader as well asa youth leader at his church in Statesboro. According to social media, he was married in 2015 to a teacher with daughters. Callaway has college degrees in business management and human resources. The irony of a degree in human resources is noted. The man has been trained on interacting with others, for heaven’s sake.
The Savannah Sports Council has banned Callaway for life – no more running events for him. The Council identified him and shared the information with the reporter and the news station.
(4/4) We will not tolerate behavior 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.
— SAV Sports Council (@SavannahSports) December 8, 2019
Not only is Callaway an ex-participant in Savannah, he is also no longer a Boy Scout leader. This guy is not worthy of guiding boys into young manhood.
“Upon learning of this incident, we immediately removed this individual and prohibited him from any future participation in our programs,” the organization said in a statement. “This behavior runs counter to Scouting’s values and everything we teach our members about treating others with dignity and respect. The [Boy Scouts of America] takes this type of conduct very seriously, and we always consider what is best for our youth members, staff, and volunteers when making these decisions.”
Some of the runners acknowledged the reporter and the television camera with waves and making faces, as the general public often does to get the camera’s attention. One person dressed in a gorilla costume drew laughs from Ms. Bozarjian. No one else assaulted the reporter, however juvenile their other antics might have been.
Callaway, once he was exposed, feigns he was “caught up in the moment.”
“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,” he said.
He noted that if he had seen her reaction, he would have stopped running to address his behavior, saying, “I would have been embarrassed. I would have felt ashamed. And I would have stopped, turned around, and went back and apologized to her.”
What a load of malarkey. It is never acceptable behavior for a man to put his hands on a woman. Period. Callaway physically assaulted the woman. He took aim at her as he ran up from behind. When his hand landed on her butt, there is no way he thought it landed on her back. The gesture was aggressive and humiliating to the 23 year old woman doing a live shot on television – she was doing her job. He did an interview with the reporter’s new station and claimed he is “not that person” as he offered an apology.
“I’m thankful for this opportunity to share my apology to her and to her family, her friends and her co-workers,” 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 added.
Callaway says he was caught up in the moment but he regrets that the publicity about the race centered on his actions and not on the event itself.
He is “that person”, though. His action proves he is “that person”. The smack appears to be a normal gesture for him – he delivered a slap on a stranger’s butt with no hesitation at all. He was also cowardly by coming up from behind her and not even glancing back at her as he ran past. It was a gesture grounded in an attitude of entitlement and dominance over a young woman. He felt entitled to physically slap her butt.
Alex Bozarjian has filed charges against Callaway – sexual battery – with the Savannah Police Department. She deserves more than a lame apology delivered to a television station, thus giving him the attention he seeks. She deserves to be heard. A message has to be sent loud and clear that female reporters in the field deserve to be treated as professionals. This is a trend that has to be stopped. Callaway has to be held accountable, especially given his work with kids.