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Runner who groped Georgia reporter on live TV apologizes

A Georgia reporter said she felt violated, objectified and embarrassed when she was groped by a runner on live TV while covering a race.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Runners on an asphalt road

WASHINGTON — A Georgia man says he's sorry for slapping a news reporter's butt on live TV while she was covering a road race.  

Police in Savannah are investigating the case as a reported sexual battery.  

WSAV-TV reporter Alex Bozarjian spoke to CBS This Morning about the incident and said she was "violated, objectified, and embarrassed" when, as she describes, she was assaulted on live TV while trying to do her job. 

Thomas Callaway of Statesboro was quickly identified as the man who groped Bozarjian. He delivered an on-camera apology that the TV station aired Tuesday evening. 

He denied the slap was intentional and described it as "an awful mistake." 

"Alex, I'm sorry, I did not mean to do this," Callaway said in his interview with the station. "Yes, I touched her, I did not know where I touched her because I just kept running." 

He added that he hopes to one day apologize to Bozarjian face-to-face. 

Bozarjian was covering the Savannah Bridge Run for WSAV-TV with a shot of the stream of runners coming across the bridge, behind her. She was facing the camera describing the atmosphere for viewers when a runner appeared to separate from the group as he approached her. In the video, you see the runner get very close to the reporter and appear to slap her on the butt. Bozarjian's jaw drops in disbelief, and her face turns to utter shock as she continues to try and report live, stumbling over her words. 

Bozarjian retweeted video of the incident posted by another Twitter user saying, "No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!!" 

The original video has been viewed over 10 million times. 

Bozarjian, appearing on CBS This Morning Tuesday said the moment "took some time to process, but it was extremely vulnerable," going on the say that "the reason why it has caught so much fire is because the emotion is extremely relatable for women all over the world." 

Bozarjian described the slap as a "heavy impact" and says she has watched the video many times.

When the video was first posted Twitter users were able to first identify Callaway using frame grabs from the video and his runner's bib number when race results were posted online. 

Bozarjian told CBS This Morning that she has actually felt some "female guilt" saying that the social media attention brought that on. She says there has also been an outpouring of support by people of all ages, men and women. Bozarjian also says some have said she "put herself in the line of fire" by reporting from where she did, but she says "maybe that come from a misunderstanding of what live reporting is."

Callaway's attorney Joseph Turner says that Callaway "did not act with any criminal intentions. Tommy is a loving husband and father...we do not expect any criminal charges."

When asked if she is interested in hearing more of what Callway has to say, Bozarjian said, "I think what is most important here is that, he took my power, and I'm trying to take that back."

Bozarjian says she wants to take her time on this matter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.