HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) – All three former coaches accused of sexual assault and doping are no longer affiliated with Huntington University’s running program, school officials said in a statement Sunday.
In a lawsuit filed Sept. 30 in the U.S. District Court of Northern Indiana, two former runners in the school’s program claimed they had been doped, sexually assaulted and raped.
The lawsuit names former coach Nicholas Johnson and his wife, current coach Lauren Johnson, as well as assistant coach Curtis Hines, the university, the university’s board of trustees as well as unnamed administrators as defendants.
The lawsuit claims the Johnsons instilled the doping program at HU where some of the team members were invited to partake in a “study” or “experiment.” The lawsuit added both Hines and Lauren Johnson knew about the doping program and did nothing to stop distribution of the drugs.
Nicholas Johnson was employed from 2018 to 2020 as the head women’s running coach. The release said Johnson’s employment was terminated in December 2020 after allegations made earlier that year. Officials added that Nicholas Johnson has now been removed from the university’s hall of fame.
In the suit, the runners claimed Nicholas Johnson would perform massages or “treatments” on them and sexually assault them. He would also rub unknown substances on the runners, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also claimed Nicholas Johnson raped one runner multiple times.
The university said that, after Nicholas Johnson’s termination in 2020, changes were made in policies, procedures and personnel. The university said the added policies include refined travel, treatment, and facility usage, as well as an Athletic Ombudsperson Policy.
School officials said in the release Lauren Johnson and Hines were both placed on administrative leave on Oct. 6 and will no longer be affiliated with the university’s women’s running program.
The lawsuit added that university officials were aware or should have been aware of the abuse and did nothing to protect the runners.
Officials said the university now has an external review team working on an independent review of the university’s Title IX and Sexual Misconduct policies and procedures, to provide recommendations for changes to implement at the school based on legal compliance and best practices.
The statement said the review, led by Katherine Nash of Lathrop GPM, will also examine the supportive measures used to protect all students, and to promote a culture of trust, integrity, and safety. University leadership and the board of trustees have pledged their full cooperation, according to the release.
A portion of the statement from Huntington University says:
“… We were devastated and heartbroken when University leadership were made aware of the allegations included in a civil lawsuit filed on September 30, 2022, against three now formerly affiliated University employees, as well as against the University, and Board of Trustees. Following this discovery many have voiced concern, and we want you to know that we hear you. These allegations are not only disturbing, but also antithetical to everything we stand for.”