CEO fired for criticizing teen boy for wearing red, floor-length prom dress
The CEO of VisuWell telemedicine has been terminated after a video went viral showing the man ridiculing a male teenager for wearing a dress to prom.
Cell phone video taken Saturday and posted to social media shows High School senior Dalton Stevens being ridiculed by a man later identified as Sam Johnson, the then-CEO of Tennessee telemedicine company, VisuWell.
Stevens says he felt “very confident” wearing the floor-length red dress to prom. “I knew that I felt beautiful, and I felt great.” The teen was taking photos with his boyfriend when VisuWell CEO Sam Johnson appears to walk up to the boys saying, “you look like an idiot.”
In the footage, Stevens can be heard telling Johnson: ‘”I chose what I want to wear so you can f*** off.” Stevens’ boyfriend Jacob Geittmann filmed the encounter. At one point, Johnson tries to knock the phone out of his hand but ends up hitting Stevens instead.
Bystanders 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.” Before the video ends, Stevens tells Johnson, “I’m sorry, I’m gorgeous.” Johnson responds by saying, “Are you?”.
“Slander terms thrown towards me of like ‘You look bad,’ ‘You’ve got hair on your chest, you shouldn’t be wearing a dress,’ ‘You’re not a man,’ blah, blah, blah,” Stevens said. “The fact that he thought he had the audacity to come tell me what I was supposed to wear and what I was supposed to do because of his standards.”
Johnson told Newsweek the allegations that the encounter centered around Stevens’ dress are “entirely false,” saying the confrontation “wasn’t anything personal or involving a dress,” rather “about obnoxious, loud behavior by this group of teens.” Johnson said he had approached the teenagers to request they “tone down the vulgarities around the families and children who were present,” including his own.
“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,” Johnson said. “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,” he added.
On Monday evening, VisuWell released a statement via Twitter announcing that the Board of directors terminated Johnson.
VisuWell’s website has been redirected to a page containing a statement saying in part:
“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 Board of Directors has chosen to terminate Mr. Johnson from his position as CEO, effective immediately.” The statement continued, “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 Independent Chronicle reached out to Franklin High School as well as Williamson County School District and did not immediately receive a response.