Thomas Callaway admitted slapping the backside of television reporter Alex Bozarjian during a race in Georgia, and now the 43-year-old youth minister and Boy Scout leader is facing a sexual battery charge for the alleged crime.
As the New York Post reported, police in Georgia booked Callaway on the misdemeanor charge late in the week after he turned himself in.
A viral video this week showed Bozarjian reporting live during the Savannah Bridge Run 10K as runners streamed past her, some of them playfully waving and motioning for the camera. But as Callaway ran by, Bozarjian came to a halt in her reporting and looked angrily toward the man. She later revealed that Callaway slapped her butt as he ran past, and took to Twitter to say the behavior was unacceptable.
“To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me,” Bozarjian tweeted along with video of the alleged assault. She added that no woman should ever have to put up with that kind of behavior at work or anywhere else, and admonished the then-unidentified man to “Do better.”
The video attracted national attention, leading to the man being identified as Callaway, a married father of two and youth pastor. He spoke to Inside Edition on Tuesday, apologizing but appearing to give an excuse by claiming that he got “caught up in the moment” and that he didn’t have full control of his hands as he ran past the reporter.
“I was getting ready to bring my hands up and wave to the camera to the audience, there was a misjudge in character and decision-making,” he said. “I touched her back; I did not know exactly where I touched her.”
Callaway also said that he did not stop to see Bozarjian’s facial expression as he ran by, noting that if he had seen how distressed she looked, he would have stopped and apologized in person.
The apology didn’t appear to sit well with the reporter. Bozarjian appeared on CBS’ This Morning, saying that while he agreed with his statement that he did not mean to hurt her as the slap did not physically hurt, it still did damage.
“It’s not OK to help yourself to a woman’s body just because you feel like it. It’s not playful. He hurt me, both physically and emotionally,” Bozarjian said, via the New York Post.
A runner accused of groping a reporter during a race in Georgia last week has been arrested. Thomas Callaway turned himself into police on Friday and was charged with misdemeanor sexual battery. He was released on $1,300 bail. pic.twitter.com/32fwk5MxOp— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 14, 2019
Callaway faces up to a year in jail if convicted of sexual battery.