Huntington University, a private Christian liberal arts university in Indiana, has placed cross country coach Lauren Johnson and her assistant, Curtis Hines, on leave after two former runners accused their former coach and her husband, Nicholas, of sexual assault and potential doping violations.
The allegations were made in a lawsuit filed last week in the U.S. District Court of Northern Indiana. The filing also names the university, the board of trustees and unnamed administrators as defendants, WANE reported. Huntington University is affiliated with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.
According to the former student-athletes, the Johnsons established a doping program in which some team members were invited to participate in what was presented to them as a "study" or "experiment."
Nicholas Johnson, a former coach on the team, would allegedly rub unknown substances on runners, while Lauren Johnson and Hines did nothing to stop it from happening.
The runners further allege that Nicholas Johnson performed massages or "treatments" that included sexual assault. The lawsuit claims he raped one runner multiple times.
Both Lauren Johnson and Hines allegedly knew of the abuse and did nothing. The lawsuit argues that university officials were either aware or should have been aware of the abuse and failed to protect the athletes.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two former National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics champions at Huntington, Hannah Stoffel and Emma Wilson. They allege that Johnson gave them unknown injections they believe to be performance-enhancing drugs, according to WISH-TV.
The civil lawsuit comes months after Nicholas Johnson pled guilty to identity deception and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 150 days of electronic monitoring in February, according to local newsreports.
Nicholas Johnson was charged with two counts of child seduction and one count of kidnapping and identity deception, according to court documents. He is accused of using a fake email account, pretending to be a woman, to communicate with a former student under the age of 18.
Johnson allegedly took her out of state without her parents' knowledge and touched her inappropriately. When the university heard of the allegations, he was eventually fired from his position.
"The University has engaged in communication with key stakeholders to begin the necessary work required to ensure the ongoing care of our students," Huntington University said in a statement Thursday.
"The University has and continues to provide a variety of opportunities and directed avenues for students who were impacted to be heard, obtain counseling services, and make Title IX inquiries. We remain committed to providing a workplace and educational environment, as well as other benefits, programs, and activities, that are free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation."