A few days ago, I posted about Alex Bozarjian, the news reporter whose backside was assaulted while she was doing live coverage of the Savannah Bridge Run 10K last Saturday. There she was, standing there on the side of the route as runners passed her, mugging for the camera, when a man in sunglasses and a baseball cap came up behind her and smacked her ass. Bozarjian’s immediate reaction was one of shock, then anger. But in an impressive display of professionalism and poise, she managed to compose herself in seconds and finish the job. Then she tweeted to the man who assaulted her– one Tommy Callaway– whose identity was discovered due to the number he wore as a race participant.
When I first wrote about this story, Alex Bozarjian had only reported the incident to the police and told her story on CBS This Morning. Since then, the Savannah police have decided to charge Mr. Callaway with misdemeanor sexual battery. Callaway turned himself in to the detectives, was booked at the Chatham County Jail, and then was released on a $1,300 bond. As I mentioned in my first post about this case, sexual harassment isn’t a joke. If you’re dumb enough to do it on live TV, there’s an excellent chance you will have to go to court and pay for your mistake.
Tommy Callaway gave an interview to WSAV, which is available on YouTube. A lot of people are dismissing Callaway’s apology, saying he’s just upset that he got caught. Personally, I think he mostly sounds sincere. He probably does feel some genuine remorse for what he did, and not just because there will be serious consequences. I do think he should have stopped short of offering excuses for his behavior. The bottom line is (no pun intended), he shouldn’t have touched Alex Bozarjian at all.
It doesn’t matter if he was “high” from the race or the race course was “tight”. And sorry, but I’ve watched the clip a few times, and it does look to me like he deliberately aimed for Ms. Bozarjian’s behind. It certainly wasn’t an accident, as far as I can tell. But, unlike a lot of the others who have their pitchforks and torches out, I don’t think he necessarily needs to be strung up and flogged for this. I’m glad he’s being charged, and I hope he gets a punishment that he won’t forget for the rest of his life. I also hope other people pay attention to this example and are reminded to keep their hands to themselves. But frankly, I’ve heard less sincere apologies. To me, he does sound genuinely sorry, even if his apology needs some work. Here’s a hint– a good apology doesn’t include any excuses. It’s a sincere admission of guilt and is focused entirely on the victim.
People make mistakes. I believe Mr. Callaway knows he made a mistake. I don’t know why his attorney allowed him to make a public apology, although it’s plain that he’s not disputing that he committed sexual battery. At this point, he’s doing damage control, which seems reasonable to me. I would be even less impressed with Callaway if he became belligerent and denied what he did, which is something I think a lot of truly creepy men would have done in this situation. Think Donald Trump’s reaction to being called out for grabbing someone by the pussy… he dismissed it as “locker room talk” and many people forgave him for that! At least Callaway is showing some sensitivity, and I have doubts that he’ll ever pull such a stunt again.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens to him when this goes to court. I suspect he’ll get a fine and maybe he might even have to register as a sex offender. That might be a bit extreme, in my view, since that would really have an effect on Callaway’s career and home life. I would not want to see his wife and children punished for this incident more than they already are from the embarrassment of it. But I do think a stiff fine would be a good start toward making this better, and a sincere promise that he’s learned his lesson about touching women without their permission.