A Tennessee CEO has been fired after videos of him appearing to ridicule a teenage boy in a prom dress went viral. The man, identified as VisuWell CEO Sam Johnson, denies the allegations and claims the boyfriend of the teen in the dress edited the video of their interactions. So, what allegedly happened? Dalton Stevens and his boyfriend Jacob Geittmann were at the Harpeth Hotel in Franklin, Tennessee, to take photos before Stevens’ high school prom. As Geittman alleges in a TikTok video, as the couple was leaving the hotel area, a “man comes up and he’s about an inch away from my boyfriend and he says, ‘What are you wearing?’ And he’s like, ‘A dress, why?’ And he’s like, ‘Why are you wearing that? You shouldn’t be wearing that.’”
In an interview with NBC News, Stevens explained he decided to wear the dress to show people that “clothing is genderless” and doesn’t have a meaning. Stevens says that when Johnson approached him and allegedly asked him why he was wearing a dress, the 18-year-old said he told Johnson he wore it because “I think I look good in it and that I really like the dress, and I want to show that clothing is genderless.” Stevens alleges Johnson called him “stupid” and told him that he shouldn’t wear a dress when he has hair on his chest.
“I chose what I wanna wear so you can f—k off,” Stevens says in the beginning of the viral clip.
With what appears to be a smile, Johnson replies, “Is that right?”
According to Geittmann, who began filming the exchange after it began and later posted it to TikTok, the man continued and said, “You look disgusting, you look ridiculous, you look like an idiot. Men shouldn’t be wearing this.” When the video begins, Stevens is asking Johnson to leave him alone and enters the hotel.
Johnson appears to follow the teen inside and someone is heard telling Johnson it’s a “special night” for the teenagers. “It’s just prom,” a voice says from off-camera. “It’s kids, it’s a bunch of kids. Come on, dude.”
Johnson also tells Geittman to stop recording and appears to grab at his phone. Geittman alleged that Johnson was “pretty obviously drunk.”
Here’s the video as posted on Twitter.
Ultimately, it’s unclear what happened before the recording started. Johnson spoke to Newsweek and said the allegations are “entirely false” and claims the confrontation was about “obnoxious, loud behavior by this group of teens.” He said he went up to the teenagers to ask that they “tone down the vulgarities around the families and children who were present.” Johnson told the outlet he and his family were having dinner at the restaurant when this started.
In speaking to NBC, however, Stevens said they weren’t being loud or swearing before Johnson approached them. “We never had any type of vulgar language until this gentleman approached and started harassing us,” he told the outlet.
VisuWell, a telehealth company based in Nashville, Tennessee, released a statement on Twitter, saying it “condemns” Johnson’s behavior in the video and announcing his termination.
The company also tweeted that Johnson is no longer employed by the company in any capacity.
And added that he also does not have a role on the company’s board of directors or an advisory role.
In an email to Williamson Home Page, Officer Charlie Warner of the Franklin Police Department confirmed to the outlet that officers were sent to the hotel just before 7 PM on Saturday in response to a report about an “unwanted person.” Warner told the outlet that officers spoke to the hotel staff as well as Johnson, who denied that he had involvement with the teenagers. Officers informed Johnson that the hotel wanted him to leave and he did so.
You can check out an interview with Geittman and Stevens below.
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