A reporter at a news station in Savannah, Georgia, is speaking out after a runner slapped her butt on live TV while she was covering a race.
In a video of the Saturday incident, runners at the annual Savannah Bridge Run — many of them waving at the camera — dash past Alex Bozarjian, a reporter at NBC affiliate WSAV.
Then a man comes up behind her and appears to smack her backside before sprinting away. Bozarjian's face falls, and she falters before getting back to her live report, appearing shaken.
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
After the video of the incident went viral, Bozarjian spoke out about it on Twitter.
"To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me," she tweeted. "No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!! Do better."
Bozarjian did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.
Many people, particularly fellow reporters, expressed their support for Bozarjian as well as anger for what she had to go through.
"DO NOT TOUCH REPORTERS. Period," WLOS reporter Caitlyn Penter said.
DO NOT TOUCH REPORTERS. Period. https://t.co/HIC6Uxs0Im
The director of the Savannah Sports Council, Robert Wells, told Bozarjian the incident was "100% unacceptable" and that the organization would identify the man.
The Savannah Sports Council, which puts on the bridge run, later said it had identified the man and banned him from future events.
"We will not tolerate behavior like this at a Savannah Sports Council event," the council tweeted. "We have made the decision to ban this individual from registering for all Savannah Sports Council owned races."
(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.
The man in the video was identified as Tommy Callaway, CBS News reported, and the Savannah Police Department confirmed to BuzzFeed News that a police report had been filed.
Facebook posts show Callaway is involved in the youth ministry at his church.
His lawyer, Joseph Turner, said in a statement to WTOC that Callaway is a “loving husband and father who is very active in his community” and that he is “working with those involved to correct the situation.”
“While we regret the situation, Mr. Callaway did not act with any criminal intentions,” Turner said. The lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.
@wsavalexb "It's not okay to help yourself to a woman's body just because you feel like it… 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." -- @WSAVAlexB
In an interview with CBS This Morning on Tuesday, Bozarjian said that Callaway had contacted the station and said he didn't mean to hurt her. But the smack "was a heavy impact" that hurt both physically and emotionally, she said.
She added she has felt an odd sense of guilt, as if she had done something wrong. That feeling has been made worse by misogynist harassment she's now experiencing online from people saying she should just get over it, she said.
"Maybe 10 years ago that was a more common thing in culture, but it’s not okay now," she said. "It’s not okay to help yourself to a woman’s body just because you feel like it."
In spite of the harassment, she said, she has also been comforted by the "outpouring of support from so many people, men, women, people of all ages."
She added, "I think what is most important here is that he took my power. And I’m trying to take that back."