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Huntington University and former track coach sued, alleging sexual abuse

By Tony Sandleben, IPB News | Published on in Crime, Law, Sports, Statewide News
(Photo: Huntington University)

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 4×800 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.