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Youth Minister Who Slapped Local News Reporter’s Butt on Live TV Pleads Guilty to a Crime

A 44-year-old husband and father from Georgia, who quickly became an object of national scorn after slapping a female reporter’s butt on live television in Dec. 2019, has pleaded guilty to committing a crime that day. Thomas “Tommy” Callaway, previously identified as a church youth minister and Boy Scout leader, admitted on Tuesday that he committed the misdemeanor offense of sexual battery against WSAV-TV’s Alex Bozarjian.

Bozarjian was covering a 10K run in Savannah when one of the runners, identified in short order as Callaway, illicitly touched her. The incident was caught on camera and social media sleuths, with the help of the suspect’s clearly visible race number, easily found out who he was.

Bozarjian responded with a tweet. The tweet, which also shared a video of the incident, has since been liked more than 700,000 times.

“To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me. No woman should EVER have to put up with this at work or anywhere!! Do better,” the reporter said. Bozarjian filed a police report.

Remarkably, Callaway attempted to explain his behavior in an interview.

“I was caught up in the moment,” he said. “I was getting ready to bring my hands up and wave to the camera and to the audience, and there was a misjudge in character and decision-making. I touched her back. I did not know exactly where I touched her.”

Callaway was arrested and charged days after the Dec. 2019 incident.

Fast forward to Tuesday, September 1, 2020. Callaway pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery. He was sentenced to one year of probation and fined $1,000. He will also have to log 200 hours of community service.

“All I really hope is that, going forward in the future, he will do better,” Bozarjian said in response to the guilty plea.

Bozarjian also tweeted her reaction to the guilty plea earlier on Wednesday.

“After nine months I finally got some closure. I’d say this is where accountability meets forgiveness. Thank you to all of you who’ve supported me through this,” she said. “Your body, your rules. We’re doing better in 2020.”

[Image via YouTube screengrab]

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Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.