Michael Johnston, the owner of Chicago-based label Audiotree and venues Lincoln Hall and Schubas Tavern, has been accused of setting up hidden cameras in his Roscoe Village home to capture nude images of his children’s nanny. Johnston and his wife, Kelly Halverson, have been sued in a civil suit, according to NBC5.
The suit was filed by two unnamed women who are friends and recent graduates of DePaul University. According to their lawyer, one was hired in December 2019 as a home manager, child caretaker, and personal assistant to Johnston and Halverson. In one instance, “Jane Doe” was asked to organize some boxes in the couple’s bedroom closets, which she discovered were filled with sex toys. A month later, Jane and “Julie” were asked to housesit and were “encouraged to use the Jacuzzi bathtub in the master bathroom” and to “help themselves to the Johnstons’ wine and beer while they were away.” Both women allege that the couple secretly videotaped them while undressed using spy cameras.
One month after that, the suit alleges that the couple had Jane housesit for them again, but this time, prior to undressing, Jane found a hidden camera disguised as a picture frame aimed near the bathtub. From there, Jane searched the house and found two more hidden cameras, one disguised as an iPhone dock charger and another in the bedroom she was sleeping in.
On November 10, Johnston appeared in bond court on a felony charge of making an unauthorized recording in a bathroom. Halverson has not been charged. Via his attorney, Johnston says that he “takes these allegations seriously and will continue to work through the appropriate legal process.”
In a written statement, Jane said,”My life is forever changed because of what they did to me…I hope that by speaking out about this I can empower other survivors to do the same.”
Audiotree, founded in 2011 by Johnston and Adam Thurston, markets itself as a new music discovery platform and a home to all members of the music industry. The company is well known as a destination for live music sessions, with Audiotree Live broadcasting directly to YouTube. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Audiotree hosted a series of live virtual concerts.
UPDATE: Audiotree has shared a statement regarding Michael Johnston, saying he’d been “removed as President & CEO of Audiotree, Audiotree Presents, Lincoln Hall, Schubas, and Tied House.” Read the rest of the statement below.