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Huntington University and former track coach sued, alleging sexual abuse

HU Athletics
Rebecca Green
Huntington University track and cross country athletes have sued the school and coaches, alleging they were the victims of sexual abuse.

A pair of former Huntington University track athletes are suing the school in federal
court, alleging sexual abuse by their coach.

The lawsuit names Huntington University, the Huntington University Board of
Trustees, former track and cross country coach Nicholas Johnson and Johnson’s
wife and current Huntington head cross country coach Lauren Johnson.

The plaintiffs are former Huntington University cross country and track runners
Emma Wilson and Hannah Stoffel, both left Huntington University with accomplished
collegiate athletic careers. Wilson was the 2020 National Association of
Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Women's Cross Country National Champion. Stoffel was part of the 2020 NAIA Women's National Champion 4x800 team.

Court documents say Nicholas Johnson gave “Larry Nassar-esque massages” to
the plaintiffs and their teammates “all the while acting like Lance Armstrong’s Tour
de France pharmacist injecting unknown substances into their bodies.”

Johnson was arrested in December 2020 on charges of kidnapping, child
seduction and identity deception. As part of a plea agreement with Huntington
County prosecutors, the more serious charges of kidnapping and child seduction
were dismissed.

The women's attorney Jonathan Little represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit
against Larry Nassar, and said this case may be worse.

“Larry Nassar was a bad person,” Little said. “What he did was completely
uncalled for, but in addition to doing literal Larry Nassar treatments by sticking his
fingers inside a young woman to adjust their pelvises, he was raping these girls.”

Little said his initial cases against Larry Nassar were dismissed, but he continued filing suits and collecting evidence until he got the ruling he and his clients fought for.

He said he plans to bring the same strategy to this case. He called this lawsuit "round one."

In the lawsuit, Little says they want the university to terminate its relationship with the Johnsons, as well as to explain to the women what drugs they were given, in addition pay financial damages.

Huntington University did not respond to WBOI’s request for comment.

Tony Sandleben joined the WBOI News team in September of 2022.