(FOX59) — A former coach at Huntington University denies allegations made by two former Huntington University cross country and track runners who filed a federal lawsuit. The women claim they were doped and sexually assaulted and that school officials and other coaches did not stop it.
The lawsuit names former coaches Nicholas Johnson and his wife, Lauren Johnson, as well as former assistant coach Curtis Hines, the university, the university’s board of trustees as well as unnamed administrators as defendants.
After that federal lawsuit and an IndyStar investigation, Lauren Johnson and two other Huntington University athletes are sharing their side of the story.
Lauren told FOX59, the reporter who broke the story reached out to her before the lawsuit was filed. The Huntington All-American and World Championship qualifier said she was driving her athletes to a meet when she found out. She said the way she was forced out is wrong.
“I immediately thought of my athletes because they were left mid-season without a coach,” Lauren said.
Last month, FOX59 reported on the two female Huntington runners who filed the federal lawsuit. They accuse Lauren’s husband, Nicholas, of multiple counts of rape in 2020 and forced injections they say happened in 2019 and 2020. Their lawyer, Jon Little, didn’t want to speak for our story, but the lawyer talked to the IndyStar who broke the story.
FOX59’s Angela Ganote interviewed reporter David Woods on October 5, 2022 who called it the most important story he’s ever reported and thanked the courage of Hannah Stoffel and Emma Wilson.
Nick Johnson was the Huntington head running coach during the 2020 season.
He has not been charged with a crime related to the allegations in the federal lawsuit. In December 2020, he was charged with child seduction of a high school runner who was under 18 but older than 16. He pleaded guilty to identity deception while 2 counts of child seduction were dropped.
Nick Johnson served 30 days in jail and 150 under GPS monitoring. Huntington named Lauren head coach after Nick was arrested and she remained in the position for the next two years.
Watch: Extended Interview with former coach Lauren Johnson
Huntington athletes speak out
“I never had a single complaint from any runner,” Lauren said.
One of Lauren’s runners is 5-time high school state champion, Addy Wiley. Wiley holds 9 Indiana records and de-committed from Colorado to run for Lauren. Wiley said she read text messages from one of the women who filed the lawsuit. She said, after reading the messages, she believed the woman was upset because she wanted a relationship with the coach.
“I know what I read in text messages between the supposed victim and the previous coach. I read those from my own eyes. I saw inappropriate, vulgar messages from the individual along with photographs. It is 100 percent my truth.” Wiley said.
Wiley has faced heavy criticism from those supporting the lawsuit. She said she wants the truth to come out.
“I get people telling me to go to a psych hospital? Because they think I do not know what is going on? This is extremely disheartening,” Wiley said.
Former Huntington star and top scorer for Huntington’s 2020 indoor track championship team Aspen Dirr said she lived with the two women making the allegations.
“I was pretty upset when my name started coming through the news and pictures of me associated with it. It was very hurtful,” Dirr said.
Dirr said she didn’t witness a doping scheme or ever hear anyone talk about rape allegations or forced injections. She said there was an Olympic training center study backed by the university and parents to see how different body types reacted to L-Carnitine. She believes everyone who took part signed consent forms.
Angela Ganote asked Dirr “Did you sign it?.” She said, “I did.” Ganote asked, “To your knowledge, these are not banned substances?” Dirr said “No. Caffeine is a banned substance. You drinking coffee and then running that would be illegal.”
Dirr said people have called for her and the team to give up their awards and national titles for doping and cheating. She said it is not true. She said she never cheated.
We asked Huntington University for copies of those consent forms for the program, but they told us they couldn’t because it was part of the ongoing legal case.
The Huntington Athletic Director and President who hired Lauren after Nick was arrested still work in their positions at the university. Leaving some to question, if these allegations are true and happened before Lauren was hired, why is she the one who lost her job?
“I am not a vindictive person. For me the best result for me would just be the clearing of my name to be able to show these allegations are false,” Lauren said.
Lauren did not want to talk about her marital status with Nick, but her attorney Matt Hinkle said she is eager for all the facts to come out and to give her testimony in court proceedings.
Little, the attorney representing the women who filed the federal lawsuit, told us, “stay tuned because there might be new information coming soon.”