The CEO of a health care company has been fired after a video of him harassing a gay teen went viral and even comedian Kathy Griffin shared it in order to make him “online famous.”
“You look like an idiot,” Sam Johnson, 46, former CEO of the telemedicine platform VisuWell, can be heard telling student Dalton Stevens, who showed up at Franklin High School’s prom in a red dress with his boyfriend. He can be seen following the teens and harassing them, even taking a swing at them at one point.
“We unequivocally condemn the behavior exhibited by Sam Johnson in a recent video widely circulated on social media,” VisuWell said in a statement posted online. “After investigating the matter and speaking to the individuals involved, the VisuWell Board of Directors has chosen to terminate Mr. Johnson from his position as CEO, effective immediately.”
The statement said that they have a “zero-tolerance policy for intolerance of any kind” and that Johnson’s actions did not meet the “high standards we set for ourselves.”
“We share the concerns that so many have expressed on this matter and look forward to announcing concrete steps we are taking in support of the LGBTQ community in particular over the coming weeks.”
Stevens’s boyfriend Jacob Geittmann recorded the video when Johnson came up to them before prom.
“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,'” Geittmann said.
His video starts with the confrontation already in progress. Stevens is telling Johnson to get away from him. The teen walks to go into the hotel, and Johnson follows him.
An adult can be heard telling Johnson to stop because it’s “a special night” for the teens, and he shrugs in his short-sleeve collared shirt and grins.
“I’m sorry, I’m gorgeous,” the teen says.
“Are you?” Johnson responds.
At one point, Johnson swings at Geittmann’s phone and tells him to stop recording. He also appears to hit Stevens in the arm.
In another video, Geittman said that Johnson succeeded in knocking the phone out of his hand and it hit the ground, which is not shown. He said Johnson was “pretty obviously drunk.”
After being posted to TikTok this past Saturday, the video went viral and was shared on Reddit and Twitter.
“It seems like he’s dying to be online famous,” Kathy Griffin wrote when sharing it on Twitter.
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. 🤷♀️🏳️🌈🤷♀️ https://t.co/GPYOYBQywv
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) April 26, 2021
Johnson told NewsWeek that the allegations against him are “entirely false.” He said that the gay teens were “obnoxious” and “loud” and that he wanted them to “tone down the vulgarities around the families and children who were present.”
He said he was at the restaurant at the hotel when he “was presented with their loud cursing.”
“Making it about the dress was their idea and they edited out most of the exchange. I have no ill will towards anyone or their personal choices, so long as it does not harm me or my family.”
After the encounter, Geittman said that his boyfriend “looked gorgeous, everybody loved it, and nobody had a problem with it.”