WAVE 3 News broadcast reporter Sara Rivest was harassed and kissed by a stranger while reporting outside a music festival in Louisville, Kentucky, on Sept. 20, 2019.
The news crew set up outside of the Bourbon & Beyond music festival to avoid the worst of the crowds, Rivest told WAVE 3. She shared a clip of her live broadcast on Twitter.
Shortly after Rivest begins her broadcast, a man walks behind her and pretends to spank her before walking off camera smiling. A few seconds later, a second man quickly runs in front of Rivest, who continues reporting through the distraction. The first man, later identified as Eric Goodman, quickly returns and leans in to kiss Rivest’s cheek before running back off camera.
“OK, that was not appropriate,” Rivest says to the camera. “But, let’s just go to the story.”
Rivest appeared to laugh off the incident, but she addressed the harassment a few days later on her channel, and told viewers that she was shaken up and his actions were unacceptable.
“I was shocked, but my nervous laughter does not equate to approval of his actions,” Rivest said. “It was an exertion of power over me, a woman trying to do her job who couldn’t stop him. This embarrassed me, and it made me feel uncomfortable and powerless.”
Rivest highlighted that harassment of this type is an all-too-common occurrence for journalists in the field, especially women. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has documented at least one other case this year where a female broadcast reporter was kissed against her will while reporting.
Rivest told the Tracker that she didn’t expect the amount of public support that she received.
“I knew I had something important to say about this but I didn’t know how many people would listen, and it’s important when something like this happens to say something,” Rivest said.
After Goodman was identified as the man involved in the incident, he was charged by the Jefferson County Attorney with harassment with physical contact, a Class B misdemeanor.
In a letter of apology read on air by Rivest, Goodman said, “After watching the video, reading through the posts and listening to your explanation, I have found a new respect for how difficult it must be to be a reporter, specifically in this type of environment. I was wrong to interrupt your job, invade your personal space and leave you feeling powerless.”
Rivest said that she accepts his apology, but that she knows he needs to face the consequences of his actions and agrees with the Commonwealth’s decision to charge him.