Audiotree Co-founder Removed Following Accusations of Using Hidden Cameras to Take Nonconsensual Nude Videos

Michael Johnston, known as the co-founder of popular live session label Audiotree, as well as owner of Chicago venues Lincoln Hall and Schubas, has been removed from all of his positions following a lawsuit filed by two nannies, known as Jane and Julie Doe. The lawsuit, which also implicates Johnston’s wife Kelly Halverson, alleges that the couple found sexual gratification in taking photos and videos of the nannies undressing.

A statement released on all of Johnston’s companies’ social media accounts says:

In light of the allegations against co-founder Michael Johnston, he has been removed as President & CEO of Audiotree, Audiotree Presents, Lincoln Hall, Schubas, and Tied House. As of Saturday, November 12, Johnston is no longer a part of the Audiotree team. We respectfully ask for patience as we navigate this challenging time. Co-founder and COO Adam Thurston will now lead the companies as President & CEO.

According to a report by NBC5 Chicago, the nannies’ attorney Gail Eisenberg noted that the nannies were recent college graduates whose first jobs out of school were with the couple. The lawsuit alleges that the couple groomed Jane Doe by having her organize boxes for the couple, some of which contained sex toys and other sexual paraphernalia. The couple also encouraged the two to use their hot tub and help themselves to Johnston’s alcohol while the family was away.

The camera was discovered by Jane Doe, who noticed the camera disguised as a picture frame facing the bathtub. Two more were discovered in the home, one of which was disguised as an iPhone charging dock. Copies of the videos taken were turned over to the police.

On Nov. 10, Johnston appeared in bond court on a felony charge of making an unauthorized recording of someone in a bathroom. He will appear in court again on Wednesday, Nov. 17. Halverson has not been charged.