'Recklessness': Rep. Ramon Alexander apologizes amid sexting, harassment allegations
State Rep. Ramon Alexander of Tallahassee, in line to become the top Democratic leader of the Florida House, is facing accusations of sexually harassing a former athletic official at Florida A&M University, including groping him and sending explicit photos and video of himself.
Michael Johnson Jr., who lost his job as an associate athletics director in January amid an ugly staff shakeup, filed complaints in February with the Florida Commission on Human Relations alleging harassment and retaliation by high-ranking FAMU employees. Included in the complaints were allegations that Alexander harassed and intimidated him over personnel issues involving a family member of the representative.
Alexander, a 37-year-old married father of two whose District 8 seat encompasses Gadsden County and part of Leon County, refused to answer questions about the allegations. Instead, he responded to an inquiry from the Tallahassee Democrat with a statement Monday afternoon apologizing for his actions and confirming what he called an “adult consensual” relationship with Johnson.
“I am willing to acknowledge that I had a consensual, adult relationship with Mr. Johnson, but at no point was I ever his employer, an employee of FAMU or involved in FAMU personnel decisions,” Alexander said. “My family and I have been working through this for many months and I am sincerely sorry for my actions."
"I will make no further comments on this pending legal matter.”
In an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat, Johnson disagreed with Alexander's characterization and said the two never had a physical relationship.
The accusations come as Alexander heads efforts to help his Democratic colleagues in the House win victories in the midterm elections and as he seeks re-election to a fourth term himself. They also come as Alexander has seen his profile rise amid well-publicized clashes with Gov. Ron DeSantis on a series of controversial bills.
Johnson provided the Tallahassee Democrat access to a half-dozen sexually explicit texts and photos and a video clip he said were sent by Alexander. The materials included a proposition to have sex on Alexander’s desk at the Capitol.
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The video shows a man — Johnson alleges it’s Alexander — performing a solitary sex act during a FaceTime call. All of the cellphone materials show Alexander’s contact information on the screen.
Johnson wrote in a whistleblower retaliation complaint that Alexander acted inappropriately during phone calls and office visits. The alleged misconduct happened at the same time that Johnson said Alexander tried to interfere in personnel decisions affecting Skye Dawson, the men’s track coach and the representative’s brother-in-law.
“During these calls (and his visits to campus), I was harassed in many ways, intimidated and told (directly and indirectly) that in the event I attempted to assist Skye with his deficiencies any longer, that I would get terminated, by way of his close relationship with the president, members of the FAMU Board of Trustees, and close friends in various departments at FAMU (including HR) and the state,” he wrote in the complaint.
In a separate discrimination complaint filed with the Human Relations Commission, Johnson wrote that he was “exposed to sexually offensive videos by someone affiliated with the defendant university, subjecting him to sexual harassment in the workplace.”
Johnson did not name Alexander in that complaint, though he verified in an interview that he was referring to the representative.
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Both complaints were filed against the university and individually named several high-ranking campus officials, including President Larry Robinson. The complaints are a possible prelude to a lawsuit against FAMU.
Johnson’s lawyer, Marie Mattox of Tallahassee, described Alexander as a power player at the university, wielding influence over operations while bringing home millions in state appropriations. She and Johnson said Alexander, a FAMU graduate, aspires to become president one day of the historically Black institution.
“Ramon is literally the director of the show over there,” Mattox said. “His hands were in the pot of every single thing that was going on. He’s telling them what to do, and this bleeds into the athletic issues. He’s the money bag — somebody who’s got great power to positively affect FAMU just because of his position.”
FAMU sent a "notice of termination" to Johnson on Jan. 19, two days after an internal investigation found that he violated regulation and policy during a separate probe into theft and other allegations against an equipment manager. Johnson strongly disputes the findings.
Kortne Gosha, who resigned last month as FAMU's athletic director, said he met with Robinson on Jan. 18 to talk about two other complaints Johnson filed in September 2021 and January with university officials. During the meeting, he said he informed Robinson of "egregious" instances of sexual assault and harassment. But he and Johnson said no action was taken to address it.
A FAMU spokesperson has not yet responded to Mattox's comments or Gosha's allegations that Robinson was informed.
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Johnson noted that on his last day, FAMU police swarmed his office to escort him off property, though he wasn't there at the time. He said that despite the personal pain he's experienced, his motives are "pure" in reporting Alexander and he doesn't want to "shatter his life."
"My intentions are to communicate the truth," Johnson said. "The Lord knows my intentions are not to hurt or harm anybody. They are to communicate what actually happened to me and also dispel any rumors and lies. This is about justice for me."
'It really negatively impacted the way I do my job'
Johnson said Alexander’s harassment of him began shortly after he arrived on campus in June 2020 and continued over the next year and a half or so, when he was forced out of his job. He said Alexander's first graphic texts were sent over three days in late August 2020.
A few weeks later, on Sept. 17, 2020, Johnson said he and Alexander met in person for the first time to tour the newly renovated men’s track locker room, a project Johnson oversaw.
As Johnson showed him around the facility, he said Alexander groped him from behind, placing one hand on his crotch and another on his rear end. Johnson turned around and told him to stop, he said.
“I said what are you doing?” Johnson recalled. “Uh-uh. Like don’t do that. I don’t play that.”
He said Alexander apologized on the spot and said he didn’t mean to offend him.
“I knew that I had to find a way to not make the moment so awkward, to (not) make it seem like it’s obvious that I’m going to run and go say something to somebody,” Johnson said. “I had to just kind of go with the moment to get out of the moment.”
Johnson did not immediately report that incident — which he considers a sexual assault — to police or university officials. He said he continued to communicate with Alexander, in phone calls, FaceTime calls and texts, about university business, though their conversations also touched on personal matters.
He said Alexander tried to bond with him over the fact that they were fraternity brothers while sharing intimate details of his life and career ambitions. Johnson said he turned down offers from Alexander to go out for drinks or for him to bring him food.
Johnson said Alexander groped him on two other occasions: once at Gaither Gym on April 27, 2021, and again on Nov. 27, 2021, at Strawberry Stadium during a FAMU football game against Southeastern Louisiana University.
Johnson initially recalled reporting the locker room incident to Gosha the day it happened in September 2020. However, Gosha, who resigned last month and filed his own complaints against FAMU, said he didn't learn about the sexual misconduct until Johnson told him in January.
“If that’s the case,” Johnson said, revising his account of the timing, “then that means I probably held off ... because I didn’t know who to communicate that to. I knew what I was up against so I didn’t necessarily know how to go about that (without) getting fired.”
'It's going to be an insurance policy for me'
According to Johnson, he and Alexander often communicated over Signal, an encrypted app that lets users send messages and other files and set a time for them to delete, sometimes in mere seconds.
Johnson said he took screenshots of messages as best he could before they disappeared and recorded the lewd FaceTime call using a second phone. He said Alexander was unaware that he was filming the call or keeping other materials as evidence.
He said he managed to record 40 seconds of the sexually explicit FaceTime call from Alexander on Dec. 29, 2020. The dimly lit video briefly shows a man's face in shadow at the end of the video.
One G-rated photo sent over Signal showed Alexander in his office at the Capitol with a text below that included a proposition to have sex on the desk. Other exchanges included photos of what Johnson said was Alexander's penis and buttocks.
Johnson said that on Nov. 2, 2021, Alexander texted him a Twitter video of a sex act. When Johnson didn't respond, Alexander apologized.
“Sorry I shouldn’t have sent you the Twitter video,” the message says. “Won’t happen again. Sorry sorry sorry. I hope you aren’t upset. I was calling to apologize. Good night.”
In another Signal conversation, Johnson wrote, “I’d like to cultivate and build a good relationship without anything sexual.”
Johnson said Alexander told him that he would delete certain messages between them and encouraged him to do the same thing.
“It was just like we’re building trust and things like that,” Johnson said. “And then I’m keeping everything simply for a moment like this, not knowing that I was even going to use it, but it was like it’s going to be an insurance policy for me.”
Alleged wrongdoing by elected official was 'just crazy to me'
Johnson's complaints claim top FAMU officials retaliated against him after he and Gosha reported alleged thefts by the equipment manager, Dakari Calhoun, and tried to counsel Dawson, the track coach.
Johnson said Alexander ran interference to prevent any adverse actions against Dawson and Calhoun. He also wrote that the university didn’t act on his complaints but did take action against him after Dawson leveled his own cross-complaint.
Johnson recalled an angry phone call from Alexander in the fall of 2020 after someone made a joke about Dawson during a brunch of Athletic Department employees at the Blu Halo. Alexander reportedly said that there were "some people you don't want to eff with" and that if he had to get involved, there would be "a whole other level of influence."
Johnson first came forward with his allegations in a Sept. 23, 2021, email to Human Resources. However, that complaint was focused on allegations involving the equipment manager; Alexander’s name was not mentioned.
FAMU found that allegations against Calhoun, the equipment manager, were unsubstantiated. The internal investigation into Johnson found that he violated policies requiring him to fully cooperate and not interfere with the Calhoun inquiry.
A memo on the Johnson investigation said he provided "questionable testimony and documentation" regarding Calhoun, including "altering and falsifying information. Johnson called that "a complete lie."
Johnson recently took a new job out of town and asked for privacy. He said he was shocked by Alexander’s “recklessness."
“I was ... also just disgusted with the fact that you are saying those kind of things and also intertwining that with your position as a state rep,” Johnson said. “It’s just crazy to me.”
Allegations come as Alexander tries to help Democrats win in November
The allegations come fresh after a legislative session that saw Alexander level harsh criticism at Republican lawmakers and DeSantis over the “Stop WOKE Act,” a recently signed law that bans the teaching of critical race theory in public schools.
As a member of the House Education Committee, he gained national attention for his opposition to the GOP legislation, making appearances on CNN and MSNBC and in a Washington Post feature.
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He has served the past several years as minority whip. Last year, the Florida House Democratic Caucus unanimously elected him chair for the 2023 and 2024 sessions, putting him in charge of helping Democrats fundraise and win elections.
Alexander was first elected to the Florida House in 2016 and automatically re-elected without opposition the next two cycles. He has not drawn an opponent in his current bid for a fourth two-year term.
He also serves as executive director of the Distinguished Young Gentleman of America, Inc., a nonprofit he co-founded that works with minority and low-income high school students. The organization, incorporated in 2009, says on its website that it “develops and prepares the next generation of effective, local, state and national leaders” through mentoring and other academic support.
Contact Jeff Burlew at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @JeffBurlew on Twitter.
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