U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Man arrested after assaulting reporter during live broadcast

Incident Details

Date of Incident
December 7, 2019
Savannah, Georgia


Was the journalist targeted?

Reporter Alex Bozarjian pauses her on-air broadcast after being hit and grabbed on her backside. A man was later arrested on sexual battery charges.

September 1, 2020 - Update

Georgia man pleads guilty to sexual battery after assaulting journalist during live broadcast

A Georgia man arrested for assaulting WSAV reporter Alex Bozarjian during a live broadcast pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery on Sept. 1, 2020.

Thomas Callaway was sentenced to a year on probation, fined $1,000 and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, CBS News reported.

Bozarjian was reporting on a charity run in December 2019 when Callaway hit her bottom as he ran past. She filed a police report and noted in a subsequent interview that Callaway had slapped her hard enough to not only startle her but physically hurt her. Callaway was arrested four days later.

Under state law, sexual battery is punishable by up to a year in jail.

After the Tuesday ruling, Bozarjian told WSAV that she hopes Callaway will do better going forward.

“While I understand that this has probably disrupted his life more than he ever imagined, nobody has a right to touch anybody or slap anybody for their own amusement,” she said.

December 7, 2019

While reporting live from a race in Savannah, Georgia, broadcast reporter Alex Bozarjian was assaulted on Dec. 7, 2019.

NBC-affiliate WSAV published a clip of the incident, which shows Bozarjian reporting during the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run when a man forcefully hits her bottom as he runs past.

Bozarjian looks shocked and stares off towards the man before regaining her composure and resuming her broadcast. Bozarjian responded to the incident in a tweet later that day, saying that the man “violated, objectified, and embarrassed” her.

The Savannah Sports Council — which owns and operates the bridge run — identified the man as Thomas Callaway and provided his information to WSAV. The Council also said that Callaway has banned him from registering for any of its future races.

Following the incident, the station issued a statement and posted a video of Callaway’s apology.

“The conduct displayed toward Alex Bozarjian during her live coverage of Saturday’s Savannah Bridge Run was reprehensible and completely unacceptable,” the statement said. “No one should ever be disrespected in this manner. The safety and protection of our employees is WSAV’s highest priority.”

WSAV reported that Bozarjian filed a sexual battery report with the Savannah Police Department on Dec. 9. In an appearance on “CBS This Morning” the following day, Bozarjian said that the man slapped her hard enough not only to startle her but physically hurt her.

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

Callaway was arrested on Dec. 13 on a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery, The Guardian reported. State law defines the crime as “intentionally mak[ing] physical contact with the intimate parts of the body of another person without the consent of that person.” The misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail.

A statement posted on Bozarjian’s Twitter account from high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing Bozarjian, says the reporter will not comment on the incident further in case there is a trial.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].