A Tennessee CEO was fired after he was accused of harassing a teenage boy for wearing a dress to his prom.
VisuWell executive Sam Johnson, 46, was filmed telling the boy he looked like an ‘idiot’ at the prom near Nashville on Saturday.
He has denied the allegations, despite being caught on camera making the remarks.
A Tennessee CEO (right) was fired after he was allegedly caught on camera harassing a teenage boy for wearing a dress to prom
The boy, Dalton Stevens, 18, told NBC News he wore the dress as a statement to prove that ‘clothing is really gender-less’ and ‘that it has no meaning’, in an interview on Monday
The boy, Dalton Stevens, 18, told NBC News he wore the dress as a statement to prove that ‘clothing is really gender-less’ and ‘that it has no meaning’, in an interview on Monday.
The Franklin high school senior told the broadcaster he was harassed by Johnson while taking pictures with his boyfriend Jacob Geittmann, who later posted the exchange on TikTok.
‘I explained [why I was wearing the dress] to him and he continued to just call me names and just follow me’, Stevens explained.
He said the young couple first noticed Johnson making ‘homophobic’ comments within the pairs earshot while they were taking pictures at the Harpeth Hotel in downtown Franklin.
The telemedicine CEO then approached Stevens and Geittmann and questioned why the 18-year-old had chosen to wear a dress.
Johnson later allegedly told Stevens ‘you have hair on your chest, you shouldn’t be wearing a dress’.
Geittmann then took out his phone and started filming the exchange, during which Johnson said he thought the 18-year-old senior looked ‘disgusting’.
In the footage, a clearly distressed Stevens can he heard telling Johnson: ‘I chose what I want to wear so you can f*** off’.
While Geittmann is filming, Johnson apparently tries to knock the phone out of his hand, but ends up hitting Stevens.
Onlookers attempt to intervene, pleading with Johnson to stop, saying: ‘It’s just prom. It’s kids, it’s a bunch of kids. Come on, dude.’
At the end of the 45-second footage, Stevens can be heard telling Johnson, ‘I’m sorry, I’m gorgeous.’ Johnson responds by saying ‘are you?’.
It’s unclear what happened before Geittmann started recording.
The clip has gained celebrity attention, catching the eye of Kathy Griffin and Billy Porter.
Griffin retweeted the clip with the caption: ‘If this is Sam Johnson in Nashville, Tennessee, the CEO of VisuWell, healthcare-tech-growth strategist, married to Jill Johnson where they may reside in Franklin, Tennessee, it seems like he’s dying to be online famous.’
Franklin police responded to the incident, but Johnson ‘denied any involvement in the confrontation’, Lieutenant Charles Warner said.
Johnson told Newsweek: ‘We had just sat down for dinner at this restaurant that we frequent, and i was returning from the restroom when I was presented with their loud cursing’.
He said he approached the teens to ask them to ‘tone down the vulgarities around the families and children who were present.’
‘Making it about the dress was their idea and they edited out most of the exchange’, he added.
Police requested Johnson settle his bill with the hotel and leave.
Warner said officers would not be investigating the incident unless the couple chose to press charges.
At the end of the 45-second footage, Stevens can be heard telling Johnson, ‘I’m sorry, I’m gorgeous’, to which he responds, ‘are you?’
VisuWell said in a statement: ‘We unequivocally condemn the behavior exhibited by Sam Johnson in a recent video widely circulated on social media.
‘After investigating the matter and speaking to individuals involved, the VisuWell BOD has chosen to terminate Mr. Johnson from his position as CEO, effective immediately.
‘VisuWell’s culture emphasizes respect, kindness, and compassion, especially for those from traditionally marginalized communities, and we maintain a zero-tolerance policy for intolerance of any kind.
‘Mr. Johnson’s actions contradicted the high standards we set for ourselves in promoting the health of those who use our platform.’
The company removed Johnson from his post after facing calls on Twitter to terminate is contract. A ‘Meet out CEO’ page has since been removed from the VisuWell website.