Despite the harrasment meted out to her on live TV, Alex Bozarjian still felt an odd sense of guilt, as if she had done something wrong by speaking out.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on December 13, 2019. It has since been updated.
For many people running in the annual 5K Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run in Savannah, Georgia, it was a normal day of fun, excitement, and cardio. However, for reporter Alex Bozarjian, covering the event for NBC affiliate WSAV live, it was a day of humiliation and outrage. She was going about her day reporting the event on LIVE TV when she was inappropriately touched by one of the participants, according to NBC News.
According to USA Today, Bozarjian was reporting the event live standing by the track. Runners are seen in the background waving and cheering as they went past the camera. The anchor was happy to report the day's events and everything looked positive and cheerful until a male participant came by jogging and slapped her on the butt and continued to run on the track.
The shock on the anchor's face was caught on camera as she tried to understand what just happened and tried to compose herself in front of her live viewers. Her face fell and her voice broke just for a moment before she had no choice but to continue with the show for the sake of everyone watching the event live. The indignity and anger were palpable and many were glad that she took to Twitter to share her emotions. Many loyal viewers and citizens came forward to encourage her and lent her the support she needed to tackle the situation caught on TV.
Taking to Twitter, she called out the man who performed the act. In her post, she uses a clip taken on a Twitter user's phone and says, "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."
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
This post went viral, with many sharing their support for the news reporter. Here's exactly what happened.
Despite the support that came in, she reveals how like many women her first instinct was to blame herself and wonder if she was responsible for the unacceptable act. The misogynistic comments online made it worse than what it already was.
Well you could see there was nothing meant by it. It is not like he stopped and kept trying touch you up....I respect that some people feel that they have to blow things up to make a much bigger thing about nothing, or else their feel like a nobody, so....— Damian English (@Bachelor_Guy) December 8, 2019
He was just playing. Maybe he was wrong but you’ve taken it way too personal.— Blabi.🧸 (@blabionrampage) December 8, 2019
"Maybe 10 years ago that was a more common thing in culture, but it’s not okay now. It’s not okay to help yourself to a woman’s body just because you feel like it." She added that the Tweet struck a chord because "the emotion is extremely relatable for women all over the world."
@SavannahSports @SavPolice charge him. Don't just ban him from events. Arrest him, book him, and make sure there is a cost for hitting a woman. Call it assault, sexual harassment, or both. But hold him accountable because he clearly has no fear of the consequences.— Cindy Battles (@CindyBattles) December 7, 2019
If someone is willing to do this on live camera then they should be willing to deal with the consequences. So sorry this happened to you.— Rylee Kirk (@kirk_rylee) December 8, 2019
I can absolutely see the shock in your face. But I want you to know you have nothing to be ashamed of, including how transparently you reacted to this transgression, or your reaction to it here. This was a violation of your person. This was assault. And we are all witnesses.— Scott M. Fulton, III (@SMFulton3) December 8, 2019
There are so many men in the comment trying to justify his behavior and I’m just going to say this: women do not like being approached and touched by strangers on the street. Much less while we’re working. Leave us the fuck alone. This is unacceptable period point blank.— Jay is for Jordan (@xheirjordanx) December 9, 2019
According to the NY Post, the man now identified as Tommy Callaway is a 43-year-old married man and father of two. Not just that, he is a local leader of both the Cub Scouts and a church youth group. Callaway is being pursued by the reporter with criminal charges. Speaking to her station, WSAV-TV, he apologized for his “awful act” and “awful mistake.” “I have taken so much away from her … I never intended to,” he said. He also mentioned that he hoped to be able to apologize in person to the “amazing woman” he hurt. “I feel awful, I feel embarrassed and ashamed,” he said, adding he was taking responsibility. "I apologize. This was not right. It was an awful mistake,” he added.
In a series of Tweets, the Savannah Sports Council, which hosted the event, condemned the runner's behavior and banned him from participating in future races. "At the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run a reporter from WSAV was inappropriately touched by a registered participant of the event. We take this matter extremely seriously and fully condemn this individual’s actions," the council tweeted.
The officials of the event were able to identify the accused through his race-bib before his information was given to the reporter. Speaking to CBS This Morning, the reporter said that Callaway had contacted the station and said he didn't mean to hurt her. However, Alex was clear in explaining that the smack "was heavy impact" that hurt both physically and emotionally and that the encounter made her feel "extremely vulnerable."
In response to his apology, Bozarjian told CBS she was considering how to take his apology. "He took my power, and I'm trying to take that back. I think what it really comes down to is that he helped himself to a part of my body."
Do you think his apology would be able to fix the pain the reporter went through? What is the best resolution to ensure women don't go through such things? Let us know in the comments.