Allegations of Sexual Assault, Doping Prompt Huntington University to Place 2 Coaches on Leave
A lawsuit filed by two former students claims the coaches knew about the school’s former cross-country coach’s abuse and did nothing to stop it.
Huntington, Indiana – Two Huntington University cross-country coaches have been placed on administrative leave following allegations of sexual assault, emotional abuse, and possible doping violations committed by the previous team coach.
The move was made by the small Christian liberal arts college on Thursday and involved coach Lauren Johnson and assistant Curtis Hines.
In a lawsuit filed by two former students September 30, one plaintiff alleged former coach Nick Johnson sexually assaulted her on several occasions, reports Runner’s World. He admitted in 2020 he had sex with two student athletes, although Johnson said the relationships were consensual and the women were the “aggressors.”
The lawsuit alleges that Nick Johnson took female runners individually on runs to isolated locations, sexually assaulting them under the guise of “hugging” them for good performances, reports the Washington Post.
Nick Johnson was fired by the school in late 2020 after he was arrested for child seduction, kidnapping, and identity deception. In that case, he posed as a representative from the University of Oregon recruiting high school girls for the track team. He slept and showered with one teen.
In the Huntington University lawsuit, the two plaintiffs allege that in addition to being sexually assaulted, they also were injected with unknown substances. Nick Johnson told them the substance(s) were approved by Huntington University and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). One of the plaintiffs says she was forcibly injected with the substances near her uterus.
Both plaintiffs believe their NAIA individual national titles, which they had previously won in meets, should be invalidated.
The lawsuit claims Nick Johnson’s wife, Lauren Johnson and Hines – both of whom worked under Nick Johnson – as well as Huntington University knew about the abuse, which happened from 2018 until December 2020, but did nothing to stop it.
In response to the scandal, more than 200 current and former Huntington University women’s athletes are calling for the ouster of the school leaders who know about the abuse allegations, reports IndyStar. Additionally, the unfolding controversy prompted the Indiana High School Athletic Association to relocate its semistate meet to Indiana Wesleyan University, reports IndyStar.
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