The Law, Penalties & Defences of Sexual Touching in NSW


A TV reporter was smacked and groped on her buttocks by a man during a live broadcast.

Reporter Alexandrea Bozarjian was covering the annual Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run in Georgia, USA when she was groped from behind during her live coverage of the event.

The live broadcast that captured the moment she was groped was subsequently posted onto social media Twitter, where it reached nearly 5 million views over a short period of time.

The posted video depicts participating runners passing the reporter whilst waving at the camera.

As one participating runner came close to bumping into the reporter, she is heard saying “Woah! Not expecting that.”

She is then heard saying “Some people dress up in costume… so it’s very exciting” before a man wearing glasses appears to get close enough that he allegedly gropes her from behind.

The footage then depicts Bozarjian looking startled and stares off at the man before returning back to her coverage of the event.

She subsequently wrote on Twitter, “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 man who allegedly groped her is identified as 44-year-old Thomas Callaway, who was arrested and charged on 13 December.

Bozarjian said to CBS News, “What it comes down to is that he helped himself to a part of my body… I think what is most important here is that he took my power, and I’m trying to take that back.”

Callaway has since claimed that he attempted to pat her on her shoulder or back, and told a local news station that “I made a wrong decision, a horrible mistake that can’t be taken back… I am embarrassed and ashamed and offer my sincerest apologies to Ms. Alex.”

He has since been prohibited from future races hosted by the Savanah Sports Council.

The Law, Penalties & Defences of Sexual Touching in NSW

Sexual touching is a criminal offence in NSW, carrying heavy penalties up to 5-years jail under section 61KC Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). This maximum penalty applies if the charge is dealt with in the District Court.

A person will be guilty of sexual touching if he/she:

  1. Sexually touches another person, being the alleged victim; and
  2. Does so without that person’s consent; and
  3. Does so knowing that the alleged victim doesn’t consent.

Where this charge is dealt with in the Local Court, the maximum sentence that can be imposed is 2-years jail.

Where the sexual touching is committed on a child, the penalties are heavier – click here for an outline on the penalties for sexually touching a child in NSW.

The court when sentencing an offender for sexual touching cannot impose an ICO penalty if the victim is under age (being a child under 16-years). An ICO is an Intensive Corrections Order considered an alternative toc a Full time jail sentence.

Sexual touching is defined to an extent in section 61HB Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) as touching that a reasonable person would regard as sexual. Determining whether or not it is sexual can be inferred from looking at the circumstances of its occurrence, the part of body touched, the part of body used to do the touching, and whether it was done for sexual gratification.

Some examples of obvious sexual touching include, touching the genitals.

Defences to sexual touching, which if apply to such a case will result in the dismissal of the charge or an earlier withdrawal of the charge by police through negotiations.

Defences to sexual touching include any one of the following scenarios:

  1. An accidental touch.
  2. An involuntary touch, which can occur from a medical condition or reflex action.
  3. Honest and reasonable belief of consent.
  4. Touching for medical or hygienic reason(s).
  5. Duress of necessity.

For more information on sexual touching laws, our criminal lawyers from Sydney can help, and offer a free consultation. Call out 24/7 hotline to book a lawyer today on (02) 8606 2218.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.

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