Audiotree, Lincoln Hall & Schubas cut ties with owner following hidden camera lawsuit
Michael Johnston, who owns Audiotree as well as Chicago venues Lincoln Hall and Schubas and the restaurant Tied House, and his wife Kelly Halverson have been sued by two women who worked as nannies for the couple's children and allege in a civil suit that the couple set up hidden cameras to capture nude images of the women, NBC5 Chicago reports. The women, known as Jane Doe and Julie Doe to protect their identities, are reportedly friends and recent graduates of DePaul University. The article reads:
In January 2020, the couple asked Jane and Julie to house-sit for them while they were out of town on vacation. According to their civil suit, the wife “encouraged Julie and Jane to use the Jacuzzi bathtub in the master bathroom” and to “help themselves to the Johnstons' wine and beer while they were away.”
The women allege the couple secretly videotaped them undressed and bathing using spy cameras for their own sexual gratification, according to the women’s lawsuit.
The next month, according to the civil suit, the couple once again asked Jane to house-sit for them over night. Jane alleges that as she was about to undress, she discovered a hidden camera disguised as a picture frame aimed at the bathtub. Court records say Jane searched the house and found two more hidden cameras, one in a bathroom disguised as an iPhone dock charger and another in the bedroom she was using.
Johnston appeared in bond court on November 10 on a felony charge of making an unauthorized recording in a bathroom. His wife has not been charged. You can read more here.
In the wake of the allegations, Audiotree, Lincoln Hall, and Schubas have issued a joint statement stating that Johnston has been removed as President & CEO of Audiotree, Audiotree Presents, Lincoln Hall, Schubas, and Tied House. "As of November 12, Johnston is no longer a part of the Audiotree team," it reads. "We respectfully ask for patience as we navigate this challenging time. Co-founder and COO Adam Thurston will now lead the company as President & CEO."