A Kentucky television reporter who was caught off guard when a stranger kissed her on the cheek while she was taping a live segment has a strong message for the man and her viewers: “This is not OK.”
Sara Rivest was reporting for NBC affiliate WAVE 3 in Louisville about the Bourbon and Beyond festival Friday when three men started making a commotion around her. A man in a black shirt and sunglasses pauses in her shot, then two men in red shirts pass in front of her and behind her. She gets briefly distracted but maintains her composure while detailing the festival’s new location.
She is midsentence when the man in the black shirt returns and plants a kiss on her cheek. “It’s allowing people to focus on the fun, on the music, on the bour … O-o-o-kay,” she reacts while pulling away.
“OK, that was not appropriate,” Rivest says as she chuckles. “Let’s just go to the story.” After the package runs, a male anchor in the studio asks Rivest if she is alright and “free from the kissing bandit,” pointing to a nearby police officer and offering to “come down there and protect you.”
“Yeah, I might need some help” she responds, laughing.
Rivest reported the incident to police, and the man has since been identified as Eric Goodman, according to the Louisville Metro Police Department. Goodman has been charged with harassment with physical contact, a misdemeanor, and was issued a summons to appear in court, a department spokesman told NBC News on Thursday.
Prior to his being identified, Rivest tweeted the video segment from Friday, writing “Hey mister, here’s your 3 seconds of fame. How about you not touch me? Thanks!!”
More than 300 people commented on the tweet. A majority of them supported her, saying Rivest handled the situation well while on air.
“I am so angry for you. Good for you for calling him out!” one commenter wrote.
“I’m pissed at myself that I laughed,” Rivest responded.
She explained in an on-air conversation with veteran WAVE reporter Dawne Gee Monday that she was shaken and “didn’t know how to react.”
“I was shocked, but my nervous laughter does not equate to approval of his actions,” Rivest said. “It was an exertion of power over me, a woman — trying to do her job — who couldn’t stop him. This embarrassed me, and it made me feel uncomfortable and powerless.”
She added that the man also pretended to smack her butt from behind. “Now, in his mind, I’m sure he thought this was harmless fun. He probably thought it would make his friends laugh and that he’d get a few seconds on TV.”
Rivest said she wanted viewers to know that incidents like the one she experienced are “a violation and all-too-common occurrence.”
“Journalists in the field, especially women, again just trying to do their jobs, experience harassment like this all of the time, and it is not OK. If you want to act like an idiot behind me in a live shot, that’s your choice,” Rivest said. “But when you put your hands on me or anyone else without their approval, that is wrong.”
Rivest shared on Twitter that her loved ones also found the man’s actions to be repulsive.
“If I had been there, I’d have dropped him,” her father wrote in a text that she shared. “Tell him I said that. Jerk. You handled it great.”
But perhaps one of the best reactions came from her 9-year-old “little sister” with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. “Oh my gosh Miss Sara. He stole your first kiss!” the girl said, according to Rivest. “So rude!”
Janelle Griffith contributed.