A marathon runner that was accused of slapping and grabbing reporter Alex Bozarjian's backside as he was running past her during a race is now being officially charged with sexual battery. He was arrested on a misdemeanor charge on Friday, per NBC News. This follows news from the Savannah Sports Council that the runner, Thomas Callaway has been banned for life from future events.
According to NBC News, the Savannah police confirmed on Saturday that the 43-year-old Callaway was arrested after turning himself in. He was later released on $1,300 bail. The online jail records also show that he was charged with sexual battery, which is a misdemeanor in Georgia.
If convicted, Callaway could face up to one year in jail for his actions. The Associated Press reports that the runner's lawyer has declined to comment upon the situation. In her statement to the authorities, Bozarjian said that Callaway had slapped and grabbed her buttocks in one motion as he ran past on the Talmadge Bridge.
"Alex Bozarjian is glad that law enforcement is taking this matter seriously," a statement on behalf of the reporter said. "She feels that a reporter should be able to do her job without being assaulted. Alex wants to thank the members of the community that have reached out to her to offer support. If this case goes to trial, she will be a witness. For that reason, she will have no further comment until the case concludes, but she does hope that there will be a just result."
Speaking with local news affiliate, WSAV, Callaway said that he had seen other runners passing the reporter and waving. He said that his intent was to do the same and that he knew he had touched her. However, Callaway claims that he did not know where.
“I’m thankful for this opportunity to share my apology to her and to her family, her friends and her co-workers,” Callaway said during an interview. “It was an awful act and an awful mistake. I am not that person that people are portraying me as. I make mistakes, I’m not perfect and I’m asking for forgiveness and to accept my apology."
The station that employs Bozarjian has since condemned Callaway's actions. It referred to the conduct as "reprehensible and completely unacceptable” and said that “No one should ever be disrespected in this manner." WSAV has also confirmed that the reporter has its full support in this incident.
Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images for Rock 'N' Roll Marathon