Tommy Callaway, 43, said he wants to “correct the situation” but Alex Bozarjian, 23, who works for the NBC affiliate in Savannah, Georgia, said he “hurt me, both physically and emotionally”.
Tommy Callaway, 43, said he wants to “correct the situation” but Alex Bozarjian, 23, who works for the NBC affiliate in Savannah, Georgia, said he “hurt me, both physically and emotionally”.

Church leader slaps reporter on live TV

A man who slapped a news reporter live on television during a running event over the weekend has been identified as a youth minister and a leader at his church.

Tommy Callaway, 43, said he wants to "correct the situation" but Alex Bozarjian, 23, who works for the NBC affiliate in Savannah, Georgia, said he "hurt me, both physically and emotionally".

It was revealed Mr Callaway is a youth group leader at his local church and a Boy Scout leader, according to Heavy, based on social media sites he quickly removed as he was outed and banned from future running events.

Through a statement issued by his lawyer Joseph Turner, Mr Callaway said we "regret the situation" but insists he "did not act with any criminal intentions".

"Tommy is a loving husband and father who is very active in his community," the statement said. "We have been in touch with WSAV and representatives for Ms Alex Bozarjian, as well as members of Savannah law enforcement.

"We do not expect any criminal charges to arise from this incident, and we are working with those involved to correct the situation."

Ms Bozarjian told the CBS This Morning segment the slap came with a "heavy impact" and made her feel "extremely vulnerable".

"He took my power, and I'm trying to take that back," the reporter said. "I think what it really comes down to is that he helped himself to a part of my body.

"I would say the reason why maybe it caught so much fire is because the emotion is extremely relatable for women all over the world."

Ms Bozarjian said Mr Callaway had been in contact to say he wasn't trying to hurt her but the reporter rebuked that claim.

"I'm not going to really debate that because he hurt me," she said. "He separates himself from the runners, and he kind of winds up. And he hit me hard.

"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."

Ms Bozarjian told CBS she had filed a police report.

 

The reporter was visibly horrified after the slap.
The reporter was visibly horrified after the slap.

 

The incident occurred during a live segment from Talmadge Bridge on Saturday during the event.

"Woah, not expecting that," she laughs as a runner in a gorilla suit passes by waving at the camera. "Some people also dress up in costumes for this bridge run, so it's very exciting."

As she says "exciting", she abruptly cuts off as a man wearing a navy blue top, hat and dark glasses appears to grope her. She looks visibly shocked as she continues her coverage while staring in the direction of the man.

A clip of the incident has been viewed millions of times since being posted to Twitter on Saturday. Ms Bozarjian called the runner out later on the social media platform.

"To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me," she wrote. "No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!! Do better."

A spokeswoman for the Savannah Police Department told NBC News they had spoken to the reporter.

"All I can say is we have made contact with Alexandrea and we are definitely going to be working with her in any capacity on how she'd like to move forward with this incident."

On Sunday, the Savannah Sports Council said it had identified the man. "Yesterday at the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run a reporter from WSAV was inappropriately touched by a registered participant of the event," the group said on Twitter.

"Our title sponsor, Enmarket and the Savannah Sports Council take this matter extremely seriously and fully condemn this individual's actions. Yesterday afternoon we identified him and shared his information with the reporter and her station."

It added, "We will not tolerate behaviour 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."

james.hall1@news.com.au



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