On Friday, Sara Rivest, a reporter for WAVE 3 News in Louisville, Ky., was left shaken and enraged after an unidentified man attempted to kiss her while on-air. Trying to maintain her professionalism, Rivest tried to laugh off the incident, which she said left her feeling "uncomfortable and powerless," according to USA Today.
The reporter, who is used to telling the story, not being part of it, has since spoken out about the incident, stating that stories of harassment against women at the workplace are far too common.
As Rivest was attempting to "do [her] job" outside Bourbon & Beyond, a music festival in Louisville, a man stood behind her and made a spanking motion before walking off camera. Seconds later, another man runs in front of Rivest, who does not allow the distraction to stop her from reporting.
Then, the first man returns into the frame and attempts to kiss Rivest on the cheek before running away.
"OK, that was not appropriate," Rivest said during the segment, while nervously laughing. "Let's just go to the story."
Rivest shared the footage on Twitter, writing, "Hey mister, here’s your 3 seconds of fame. How about you not touch me? Thanks!!"
Hey mister, here’s your 3 seconds of fame. How about you not touch me? Thanks!! pic.twitter.com/5O44fu4i7y— Sara Rivest (@SRivestWAVE3) September 20, 2019
"When I got back to the station after the live shot, and in the hours and days that followed, I became angry," Rivest tells Yahoo Lifestyle. "Watching the footage back and seeing the man pretend to spank me was upsetting — I didn’t realize that happened until after. I felt mad and embarrassed."
On Monday's WAVE 3 evening broadcast, Rivest addressed the incident, stating that the man's actions were not OK, and that her "nervous laughter does not equate to approval of his actions."
"It was an exertion of power over me, a woman trying to do her job who couldn't stop him,” she said on-air. “This embarrassed me, and it made me feel uncomfortable and powerless."
Rivest went on to tell Yahoo Lifestyle that the experience made her feel "like a prop, used for a joke."
While the reporter has received messages from some women blaming her for wearing a dress that was "too revealing" and claiming that the man was "being cute" and she should lighten up, she says that other women have been supportive, positive, and have even come forward with their own experiences of harassment on the job.
"So many women have emailed me, found me on Facebook and Twitter to tell me their experiences and share how it made them feel,” Rivest tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It seems like most women in TV news have at least a story or two just like this one." Even women outside of the industry, such as nurses and restaurant workers, have shared their personal stories with Rivest.
"Let us do our jobs," she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
According to The Courier Journal, the Louisville Metro Police Department is investigating the incident and the suspect has yet to be identified. The police consider it to be “harassment with physical contact” at this point. The department did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.
"I’ve been in constant contact with Louisville Metro Police, who have been very supportive and so kind," Rivest tells Yahoo Lifestyle, adding that she could not comment further on the case, but she would have an update soon.
“I think this whole thing shows how little some people understand about boundaries,” Rivest says. “I’m glad I spoke up and I hope by putting this out there and expressing how it made me feel, those who think it’s funny won’t anymore, and we can start a conversation about what’s acceptable and what isn’t.”
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