A Georgia man who was videotaped slapping a female reporter’s bottom on live TV was arrested on Friday on a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery.
A Savannah police spokeswoman, Bianca Johnson, confirmed that Thomas Callaway, 43, of Statesboro was charged in connection with the incident that occurred while WSAV-TV reporter Alex Bozarjian was broadcasting live as runners streamed past her on a prominent bridge in the coastal city.
“The conduct displayed toward Alex Bozarjian during her live coverage of Saturday’s Savannah Bridge Run was reprehensible and completely unacceptable,” the Savannah TV station said in a statement.
“No one should ever be disrespected in this manner. The safety and protection of our employees is WSAV-TV’s highest priority.”
Jail records showed Callaway was booked on Friday afternoon. His attorney, Joseph Turner, declined to comment.
Video from Bozarjian’s live broadcast last Saturday posted online showed one of the passing runners appearing to swat her from behind. The video shows the stunned woman stop talking for a moment and stare. The clip had been viewed more than 11 million times on Twitter by Friday.
“You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me,” Bozarjian wrote recently on Twitter. “No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!! Do better.”
She told police the man slapped then grabbed her buttocks.
Callaway stepped forward and went to the TV station to give an on-camera apology.
“It was an awful act and an awful mistake,” he said, adding that he was raising his arm trying to pat the reporter on the back or shoulder and didn’t realize until seeing the video he had touched her buttocks.
Sexual battery is a misdemeanor in Georgia, punishable by up to a year in jail. State law defines the crime as making “physical contact with the intimate parts of the body of another person without the consent of that person”.