true crime

Man gets smackdown for butt slapping a reporter…

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.

Mea culpa! I’m not sure this apology helps his cause, though. Most of the people commenting on YouTube seem to think he’s just sorry he was caught.

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.

An example of an insincere apology…

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.

true crime

Don’t give me no lines and keep your hands to yourself…

A little mood music by the Georgia Satellites… maybe Tommy Callaway should listen to this song a few times– especially the “keep your hands to yourself” part.

I had another topic in mind to write about today… maybe I’ll get to it later. For now, I want to address a news article I just read about yet another man taking liberties with a woman and apparently thinking it’s funny. The short version, guys, is that this isn’t funny. It’s demeaning, humiliating, and downright shitty. And if you touch someone without their consent, you’re likely to pay a stiff price for it. Sexual harassment is not a joke, and doing it on live TV is really foolish. At the very least, you will be outed and shamed for it, and there is a good chance you could wind up in court, too.

What the fuck?

Savannah, Georgia based anchorwoman Alex Bozarjian, 23, was covering the Savannah Bridge Run 10K last Saturday for WSAV TV. She appeared to be enjoying the scene as she stood to the side, watching joggers pass as they mugged for the camera. Then, suddenly, a man in sunglasses and a baseball cap came up behind her and slapped her on the ass. Bozarjian’s face immediately registered shock and indignation, but she quickly composed herself and went on with her reporting. Below are screen grabs from the video. You can see Bozarjian’s horrified reaction as she’s groped on live TV while trying to do her job.

Later, she tweeted this:

Damn right…

Eagle eyed observers figured out who that “masked man” was, on account of the race number he was wearing. He was identified as 43 year old Tommy Callaway of Statesboro, Georgia. I know Statesboro. I have relatives who are from that area and, in fact, I’m pretty sure my Aunt Jeanne is buried near there. I’m sure Mr. Callaway, who was also identified as a Boy Scout leader and youth pastor for the United Methodist Church, meant no harm. He might have thought he was being cute and funny, smacking the anchorwoman’s ass. It’s probably how he was raised. And in this age of Donald Trump worshipping pussy grabbers, he may have felt perfectly justified in smacking the ass of a woman young enough to be his daughter. It’s all in good fun, right?

Of course he was wrong, and Mr. Callaway may soon find out how wrong he was in a court of law. Alex Bozarjian, whose Twitter profile reports that she’s a “proud Latina”, was raised in Salem, Massachusetts, and sports an apparently Armenian surname, has filed a police report and is allowing police officers to decide if criminal charges are worth pursuing. Callaway’s attorney, Joseph Turner, issued the following statement:

“[Tommy Callaway is a] loving husband and father who is very active in his community [who is] working with those involved to correct the situation. While we regret the situation, Mr. Callaway did not act with any criminal intentions,”

Callaway has also apparently said that the butt slap was an “accident”. He stated on Inside Edition:

“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.”

Really? I’ve watched the clip a few times and, to me, he looks pretty intent on making contact with her ass. Of course he wasn’t going to see her face as he was running up behind her, and of course he wasn’t going to look for her reaction as he was racing away. While some might excuse him for that reason, I think it’s an even better reason not to touch people without their permission. Especially if there is any chance you might wind up touching them in an inappropriate place and/or having your intentions “misunderstood” (although I think Mr. Callaway’s excuse is 100% bullshit).

Bozarjian says the slap hurt; he hit her hard. Bozarjian also says that Callaway “took her power”, and she’s claimed she even feels a little bit “guilty”, probably because she’s been shamed by people who think she should just let it go because he was just being “rambunctious”.

Well… what the hell is that supposed to mean? Tommy Callaway is married and has daughters, and he presumably has a mother. Does he like it when strange men fondle them “in good fun”? I wonder what Callaway’s wife, mother, and daughters think of this, watching their husband, son, or dad treating a young woman like a side of beef on live television. It’s probably embarrassing and humiliating for them, too. I know I’d be pretty furious if Bill ever did that. Fortunately, Bill is much more evolved, even though he grew up at a time when guys were allowed and expected to take liberties with women that way, especially in the South. Callaway seems to have a “frat boy” mentality. I’ve run across it a lot myself, especially having grown up and lived in the South, where there seems to be more of an attitude about boys being boys. Lots of guys like Callaway have been taught this behavior is just fine.

I see from that Callaway got married in 2015 and is a graduate of Georgia Southern University. He works in sales for Swedish Match, a tobacco company. His wife has daughters, but it’s not clear if she had them with Callaway. Either way, I would expect Callaway to set a better example and respect his vows to his wife.

But even if Callaway wasn’t married and didn’t have daughters, smacking someone on the ass like that is just a tacky thing to do, especially considering that Bozarjian was working. It certainly would be wrong regardless, but she was acting in a professional capacity, reporting the news. There she was on camera, trying to do her job, when she gets sexually harassed for all to see. Does Callaway go around smacking police officers on the ass when they’re working? What about nurses or schoolteachers? I give Bozarjian true props for keeping her composure in that situation. She did a lot better than this guy did, when he was caught off guard while reporting the news:

He’s clueless. I think he was fired after this gaffe.

Watching the video of the incident involving Callaway and Bozarjian, I was reminded of a trend that was going on a few years ago. Anchors were interviewing people about various subjects when the person suddenly blurted “fuck her right in the pussy.” It started out just being one guy, but the trend soon caught on and others started doing it, because it was “funny”.

Is this funny? Well… yeah, it kind of is. But it doesn’t involve anyone being physically or sexually harassed.

Tommy Callaway has apparently taken down most of his social media by now, but before this blew up, it was revealed that he takes part in a lot of races and running events. However, thanks to his inability to keep his hands to himself, Callaway is now banned from all Savannah Sports Council owned races. Perhaps that doesn’t matter to Callaway, but at least someone is holding him accountable for his boorish behavior on live TV. I’m not saying I think this is something that should ruin Callaway’s life, but I do think it’s good that people have taken notice. Yes, Bozarjian has gotten some dismissive comments from people who don’t think this is a big deal, but others– particularly those in her profession– are coming to her defense.

Seriously, Tommy… keep your hands to yourself!

politics, poor judgment, sexism

Outraged over an “Eskimo kiss”…

Yesterday morning, I read a news story about former U.S. vice president Joe Biden, who has re-entered the national political arena. It seems that back in 2009, Mr. Biden, then Vice President Biden, “Eskimo kissed” a woman named Amy Lappos. Ms. Lappos said that Mr. Biden leaned in and rubbed noses with her and she thought he was going to kiss her. It made her uncomfortable. She’s now complaining about it in 2019, in support of another woman’s accusations against Biden.

Former New Mexico assemblywoman, Lucy Flores, wrote in an essay published last week that the former vice president had touched and kissed her inappropriately at a campaign event back in 2014. Flores writes that she hadn’t washed her hair when Biden came up behind her, put his hands on her shoulders, smelled her “dirty” hair, and kissed the back of her head. She said she thought of a Spanish expression, “tragame tierra,” which means “Earth, swallow me whole”, when this happened to her. I understand her embarrassment. That would embarrass and humiliate me, too. I can even see why she was too shocked to say or do anything at the time, although I wish she wouldn’t have waited years to speak up about it.

Far be it for me to diminish the discomfort and pain of these two women, who were made to feel uncomfortable about Joe Biden’s penchant for inappropriate touching. To be honest, I never really paid a lot of attention to Joe Biden when he was the Vice President, so I didn’t realize that he’s well-known for being “touchy feely”. Some people don’t mind being hugged, kissed, or “Eskimo kissed”. Other people find inappropriate and uninvited touching very uncomfortable. I don’t think it’s right for people to touch others without their consent, even though I realize that this new level of respect is coming about in the wake of movements like #metoo. It takes time for people to change, though. Many people never do.

Yesterday, I posted that since Americans voted in a president who openly brags about grabbing women by the pussy, it’s hard for me to get outraged over an “Eskimo kiss”. That’s the truth. Do I think Joe Biden should be “Eskimo kissing” anyone who isn’t a relative or a really close friend who has consented? No, of course not. But I don’t see it as nearly as egregiously awful as what Donald Trump and Bill Clinton have done to women. So, you can also count me as one of those who is not that outraged about the “Eskimo kiss”. That doesn’t mean you can’t be outraged about it or traumatized by it. Just don’t expect me to share your views, even though I do think people need to keep their hands and lips to themselves. That’s something we all learn in kindergarten, right?

Americans have already proven that they don’t really care that much about white men who sexually harass women, particularly those in politics. Bill Clinton got a blow job in the Oval Office by a woman who was not his wife. He was even impeached, though he managed to complete two terms. Plenty of people still think he’s a hell of a guy. Monica Lewinsky, by contrast, suffered from extreme bullying and slut shaming for years after the incident.

Before he was elected, Donald Trump was recorded on a hot mike, bragging about how he grabs women by the pussy. This information was disseminated just before the 2016 election. He still won, and a lot of people still think he’s awesome.

Brett Kavanaugh, the newest Supreme Court justice, was accused of attempting to rape a young woman while they were both drunken teenagers. Despite evidence that Kavanaugh didn’t have much respect for women, particularly when he was a young man, he was still confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, a job he will likely have for the rest of his life.

I’m not at all saying that I think Joe Biden’s behavior is acceptable. I do think he should be more mindful of his behavior and alter his habit of inappropriate touching. However, it’s gotten to the point at which everyone in a political race gets called out for the most minor transgressions, years after they’ve happened. I understand there is an imbalance of power when you’re dealing with the vice president or president. But some situations call for bravery, maturity, and integrity. How amazing would it be if some of the women who are complaining about this inappropriate behavior actually said something about it at the time?

I get it, though. Saying something like that to someone who is vice president or president may have a seriously deleterious effect on one’s career. We don’t want to piss off the person who has power. Confronting people is a scary thing for anyone to do– especially confronting someone powerful. And yet, acquiescing at the time of these infractions encourages more abuse and, frankly, isn’t the best representative of good leadership behavior. How are we supposed to look up to female politicians who say nothing when they are abused by men, then come out of the woodwork years later? I think female leaders, now more than ever, have a responsibility to speak up and out at the time when someone demeans them. Waiting years to make an accusation is a much weaker thing to do, even if it’s totally understandable.

What would have happened if Lucy Flores and Amy Lappos had said, “Excuse me, Mr. Vice President, but please don’t touch me.”? I’m sure it would have made the news. Some people might have scoffed at the women for being too sensitive. Others would be applauding them for being assertive and strong. And the really minor incidents, like the “Eskimo kiss”, would have been dealt with at the time. Maybe Joe Biden might have even changed his behavior and stopped inappropriately violating people’s personal spaces. Maybe more people would find Trump’s bragging about grabbing women by the pussy less acceptable for a presidential candidate.

Some have complained that Joe Biden is treating women like “little girls” when he kisses them on the head or brushes noses with them. I agree. So what is the antidote for not being patronized in that fashion? Show him you’re not a child. Say something. Stick up for yourself. Tell him to knock it off. Don’t stand for it. It’s the same way you’d train any dog.

Women who want to be thought of as “equal” should respond in a way that a man would if Joe Biden came up and kissed them on the top of the head. Nip it in the bud. Tell him to stop it. That’s the only way this kind of behavior will cease.

I don’t know why, but as I read about this situation, I was reminded of this old episode of Night Court. Harry Anderson, as Judge Harry Stone, grabs Michael J. Fox and forces him into a hug. This was portrayed as a heartwarming moment, even though today, some would say it was inappropriate (even though Fox is a guy). Interesting how things change in 35 years.