The CEO of a Nashville-based telemedicine company has been fired after a viral video showed him in an altercation with a teenager wearing a red prom dress, prompting widespread accusations of homophobia and harassment.
The video, recorded by Jacob Geittmann, shows Geittmann’s boyfriend, 18-year-old Dalton Stevens, confronting the former executive, Sam Johnson. Geittmann said Johnson had approached their group in a courtyard at the Harpeth Hotel and asked what Stevens was wearing.
“We thought it was a joke at first, like thinking this is just a chaperone, someone’s dad or whatever,” Geittmann told Storyful. Stevens responded to Johnson, saying, “a dress?” Geittmann said Johnson then started to direct homophobic insults at Stevens. According to Geittmann, Johnson said, “If you have hair on your chest, you shouldn’t be wearing a dress.” Johnson later denied saying that.
In the video, Johnson appears to follow Stevens, and is heard telling him he looks “like an idiot.” Stevens yells at Johnson to leave him alone, as other people plead with Johnson to stop. Johnson then appears to try to block Geittmann from filming him.
Several parents then stepped in and hotel staff came out and asked what was going on, Geittmann told Storyful. “This is a special night,” one person is heard telling Johnson, “please stop.”
Geittmann said they received an apology from hotel staff and were told police had been called. However, Geittmann said their group left the venue before police arrived as they had a dinner reservation elsewhere.
The Franklin Police Department told Storyful they were called to respond to the hotel at 6.55 pm on Saturday after the hotel management called to report an “unwanted person.” According to police, hotel staff explained that the man had been involved in a confrontation with teenagers who had already left. The staff told officers they would like the man, who was sitting at the bar, to leave.
Franklin Police Lt. Charles Warner said Johnson “denied any involvement in a confrontation,” but was advised by officers to leave the premises, “as requested by hotel management.” Warner told Storyful his department has seen the video of the altercation and were concerned, but had not been asked to investigate further. He said if they are contacted, “the department will investigate and assist them with all applicable next steps.”
In statements to Newsweek and the right-wing Daily Wire website, Johnson denied all allegations of homophobia and wrongdoing, and claimed the interaction “wasn’t anything personal or involving a dress.” Johnson said the teenagers were “loudly cursing” and “were only there to take pictures and cause a public scene,” the reports said. He also denied following Stevens, telling the Daily Wire he was walking back to his family at a restaurant inside.
Storyful has reached out to Johnson for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publishing.
Johnson’s former company, VisuWell, issued a statement Monday announcing that Johnson had been fired from his position, and said it condemned Johnson’s behavior “unequivocally.”
“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,” the statement read. The company later added that Johnson no longer held a position on its Board of Directors, and was not employed by VisuWell in any other capacity. Credit: Jacob Geittmann via Storyful