Tommy Callaway is a Georgia man accused of slapping WSAV-TV reporter Alex Bozarjian on the backside on live TV while she covered a race in Savannah, Georgia, he was running in. Callaway has been charged with sexual battery and he has been banned by the organizers of the race from running in future events they will be hosting.
Callaway, 43, of Statesboro, Georgia, was identified by social media users through his runner’s bib number after a clip of the incident was posted on Twitter by a viewer. Callaway was taking part in the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run on Saturday, December 7, 2019, hosted by the Savannah Sports Council. He was competing in the “Double Pump,” by running both the 5K and the 10K portions of the event.
After Bozarjian, 23, filed a police report, the Savannah Police Department charged Callaway with misdemeanor sexual battery on December 13. He was released from the Chatham County jail after posting $1,300 bond. He could face up to a year in jail if convicted.
Bozarjian responded to the incident on Twitter, with a tweet, writing, “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.”
Callaway, who is married with daughters, works as a salesman and is involved in his church’s youth group, has locked down many of his social media profiles after being identified as the man in the video.
He issued a statement on December 9 through his attorney, Joseph Turner, of the Savannah-based The Turner Firm. The statement from Turner said, “While we regret the situation, Mr. Callaway did not act with any criminal intentions. Tommy is a loving husband and father who is very active in his community. 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.”
Bozarjian told “CBS This Morning,” “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.” Bozarjian said there was “heavy impact” and the incident made her feel “extremely vulnerable.” She told the CBS morning news show, “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.” Bozarjian said Callaway contacted her and said he was not trying to hurt her, but she told CBS, “I’m not going to really debate that because he hurt me. … He separates himself from the runners, and he kind of winds up. And he hit me hard.”
Bozarjian told CBS This Morning she felt “inundated with some female guilt” because of online comments suggesting she was at fault. She told CBS, “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.”
Here’s what you need to know about Tommy Callaway:
1. The Video Shows Alex Bozarjian Stop Talking & Stare Down Tommy Callaway With a Shocked Expression After He Runs Up & Slaps Her on the Butt
The incident occurred as Alex Bozarjian was live on TV for a shot from the Savannah race. The WSAV-TV reporter is laughing and smiling in a reflective yellow jacket as several runners pass her, some leaning into get on camera. A man dressed as a gorilla surprises her and she laughs it off, saying she didn’t expect that and explaining some of the runners dress up in costumes.
Meanwhile, Tommy Callaway, wearing black shorts, a hat and a long-sleeve blue shirt, can be seen running up behind her. As Bozarjian speaks to the camera, Callaway runs by her and smacks her on the backside. Bozarjian stops talking and stares Callaway down as he runs away, with her mouth open and a shocked expression. She then hesitates as she starts speaking again, saying, “it’s very exciting, um,” while still looking down the road at where Callaway ran.
The clip of the moment has been viewed more than 10 million times, with many social media users saying that the inappropriate touching went way too far, crossing legal lines, and saying Callaway should be arrested.
Callaway, whose full name is Thomas Reuben Callaway, was identified using a photo of his bib number taken during another part of the race.
Callaway told Inside Edition on December 10, “ “I was caught up in the moment. 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. I touched her back; I did not know exactly where I touched her.”
Callaway added, “I totally agree 100 percent with her statement and the two most important words were her last two words, ‘do better.’ And that’s my intention. I did not see her facial reaction as I just kept on running. If I did see her facial reaction, I would have felt embarrassed and ashamed and stopped and turned around to apologize to her.”
Alexandrea Bozarjian is originally from Salem, Massachusetts, and joined WSAV as a multimedia journalist in 2018. She graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2018 with a degree in broadcast journalism, along with Spanish language and literature. While at UCF, Bozarjian was an intern at WFTV and WKMG.
“While Alex spent most of her life in the north, she is no stranger to the southern heat. Her television experience in Orlando, Florida and Cuba have more than prepared her for this new assignment. She interned at WKMG and WFTV channel Eyewitness News, both top stations in the Orlando market,” WSAV says on its website. “Alex speaks fluent Spanish and through her studies has gained a deep understanding of the Latino population. She looks forward to using her language skills to better serve the Coastal Empire.”
WSAV adds about Bozarjian, “She is a hard worker and deeply invested in accurate storytelling that uplifts and informs the community. Her unique experience in the communist island of Cuba has taught her not only the responsibility of a journalist but also the importance of shining a light in dark places. In Cuba, Alex was an associate producer and reporter for two 30 minute specials on Music, Art, Culture, and Environment. Alex is a proud traveler and dreams of making it around the world one day. She’s been to places like Portugal, Spain, and Morocco. When she’s not reporting at WSAV she enjoys any and everything fashion, spending time with family, and reading about psychology.”
2. Callaway, Who Often Runs in Races & Competes in CrossFit, Has Been Banned for Life by Savannah Sports Council, Which Says It Will ‘Not Tolerate Behavior Like This’
Photos on social media show that Tommy Callaway often takes part in races and other running events, triathlons and CrossFit competitions in the Georgia area.
The Savannah Sports Council issued a statement about the incident saying, ” Yesterday at the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run a reporter from WSAV was inappropriately touched by a registered participant of the event. Our title sponsor, Enmarket and the Savannah Sports Council take this matter extremely seriously and fully condemn this individual’s actions.”
The council added, “Yesterday afternoon we identified him and shared his information with the reporter and her station. 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.”
Robert Wells, the director of the Savannah Sports Council, tweeted, “This will not be tolerated at our events. Glad we have race bibs and photos for easy identification. Alex, what happened today is 100% unacceptable. You have my assurance we will identify him.”
Fellow reporters also gave support to Bozarjian. Emily Bloch, of the Florida Times-Union, tweeted, “I’m so heated for you. This is disgusting. Sending strength and solidarity your way ❤️✊?. Now, let’s get this grimy dude and warn the women in his life.”
Caitlyn Penter, of ABC News 13, wrote on Twitter, “DO NOT TOUCH REPORTERS. Period.” Journalist Rylee Kirk added, “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.”
Joyce Philippe, of WLOX-TV added, “This is so disgusting. Somehow you pushed through and I commend you. This should have never happened and I hope he is found and charged.” Emma Hamilton, of WJCL-TV, wrote, “You handled it with grace, my friend. This is not acceptable and the community has your back.”
Meteorologist Jordan Darensburg, of WDTV, wrote on Facebook, “The man to the right is the man who smacked WSAV Alex Bozarjian on the rear. Savannah, let’s identify this person and let’s bring him to justice. This treatment of female reporters and those in the news business MUST STOP. And fellas, for the 385,180th time, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER.”
Bozarjian responded to the woman who initially posted the clip saying she was not offended that she put the video online. “None at all! It’s very nice to feel supported by others when this stuff happens. Thanks Tonya,” she wrote.
In September 2019, a Kentucky man, Eric Goodman, was charged with misdemeanor harassment with physical contact, after he kissed WAVE-TV reporter Sara Rivest on the cheek while she was reporting at a festival. Goodman wrote a letter of apology to Rivest
3. Callaway Works in Sales at Swedish Match, a Tobacco Company
Tommy Callaway works in sales at Swedish Match North America in Statesboro, Georgia, according to his Linkedin profile. Swedish Match, according to its website, “develops, manufactures, and sells quality products with market-leading brands in the product segments Snus and moist snuff, Other tobacco products, and Lights. Production is located in seven countries, with sales concentrated in Scandinavia and the US.”
Swedish Match has not commented about the incident involving Callaway. He has worked at the company for more than 12 years, starting in March 2007, according to his Linkedin profile.
Callaway previously worked as a sales representative and in sales at American Standard Brands, United Distributors and Cbeyond and as a district manager at Royal Cup Coffee.
4. He Has Been Married Since 2015 & Is a Graduate of Georgia Southern University
Callaway has been married since 2015, according to posts on Facebook. His wife, who is a teacher, has daughters, but it is not clear if Callaway also has children. A photo from the day of his wedding, on December 12, 2015, taken at Pittman Park United Methodist Church, is captioned by a friend, “This is the last picture of my friend Tommy Callaway as a single man!”
Callaway says on Linkedin that he attended Armstrong Atlantic State University from 1994 to 1996 and then graduated from Georgia Southern University with a degree in business management and human resources in 1998.
Callaway has been on the news before. In 2014, he appeared on WTOC-TV’s “Tailgaitin’ With WTOC” to talk about Georgia Southern sports.
In November 2009, he was quoted by WTOC in an article about the firing of the Georgia Southern football coach. Callaway told the news station, “First reaction was wow and then classless. I think it could have been handled differently than it was. I would be afraid as a head coach coming here to apply because I wouldn’t know how long I’d be here.”
He was also quoted in a May 2012 story by WTOC about how he fears driving near log trucks. He told the news station, “I’m always afraid that a log may fall off or the truck will take a sharp turn and flip over.”
5. Callaway Is a Youth Group Leader at His Church in Statesboro & Was a Boy Scout Leader
Tommy Callaway is a youth group leader at his church, Pittman Park UMC, according to his Facebook page. He posted a February 2017 photo on Facebook on the church’s page and wrote, “The confirmands with Pastor Bill at Historic Union United Methodist Church in rural Bulloch County. Sharing a prayer and learning the history of the United Methodist churches in our area.”
In August, he posted a photo from a youth ministry meeting and wrote, “Great things happening tonight at youth. If you are sixth grade and above we missed you and hope to see you next week.”
According to his Linkedin profile, Callaway had been a Scout Leader for Boy Scouts of America since 1987.
The Boy Scouts issued a statement to Heavy saying, “Upon learning of this incident, we immediately removed this individual and prohibited him from any future participation in our programs. This behavior runs counter to Scouting’s values and everything we teach our members about treating others with dignity and respect. The BSA takes this type of conduct very seriously and we always consider what is best for our youth members, staff and volunteers when making these decisions.“
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