A lawsuit filed on September 30, 2022, claims former Huntington University running coach Nick Johnson emotionally, physically and sexually abused student-athletes while serving as the cross-country running coach for the school. According to media reports, four former Huntington University runners reported Johnson abused his authority as a coach and pressured runners into taking pills and injections as well as coercing two female student-athletes into having sex with him.
Johnson’s inappropriate behavior extended beyond college student-athletes at Huntington. In December 2020, Johnson faced criminal charges related to child seduction, kidnapping and identity deception. Court documents state he posed as an out of state college athletic director to parents of a female high school runner and arranged a “recruiting trip” for he and the underaged girl. Johnson traveled with the girl to Oregon and sexually abused her. Approximately four months later, Johnson was charged with four felonies and pleaded guilty to identity deception in exchange for having the child seduction and kidnapping charges dropped. Johnson was fired from Huntington University and served 30 days in jail.
Within months of Nick Johnson’s termination from Huntington University, his wife Lauren Johnson was hired as the university’s cross-country coach. The recent lawsuit claims that while Nick Johnson behaved inappropriately with student-athletes during his tenure as the cross-country coach his wife Lauren, along with several university leaders, were aware of his sexual misconduct and failed to report it. Lauren Johnson currently serves as the cross-country coach for Huntington University.
Athletes deserve to train and compete in an atmosphere free of sexual misconduct and abuse. Coaches, doctors and physical therapists are trusted and placed in authority roles to support athletes and help them reach their full potential. If that trust is broken, it is imperative that leaders act to protect athletes by removing the perpetrator and reporting inappropriate behavior to law enforcement. Cohen & Malad, LLP attorneys have experience representing student-athletes in sexual abuse litigation and can help you. If you or someone you know participated on the Huntington University running team and was sexually abused, contact us for a no-cost consultation. We can advise you of your legal rights and options. If you choose to pursue a legal claim, we will not charge you any up-front costs. There is a time limit for sexual abuse survivors to file a legal claim so don’t delay in reaching out to learn more.