HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) — Huntington University has placed its head cross country coach and an assistant on leave after two former runners claimed in a federal lawsuit they were doped, sexually assaulted and raped.
The university said Thursday it placed head coach Lauren Johnson and assistant coach Curtis Hines on administrative leave “effective immediately and until further notice pending investigation.” The school appointed track and field coach Austin Roark as interim head cross country coach.
A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern Indiana late last week 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.”
Both Hines and Lauren Johnson knew about the doping program and did nothing to stop distribution of the drugs, the lawsuit said.
Nicholas Johnson would also rub unknown substances on the runners, the lawsuit claimed.
In the suit, the runners claimed Nicholas Johnson would perform massages or “treatments” on them and sexually assault them. The lawsuit also claimed that Nicholas Johnson raped one runner multiple times.
The runners claimed Hines and Lauren Johnson knew of the abuse but did nothing, according to the lawsuit. It added that university officials were aware or should have been aware of the abuse and did nothing to protect the runners.
After the lawsuit was filed, Huntington University issued this statement:
“University leadership has been made aware that a civil suit was filed that names the University, as well as individuals formerly and currently associated with the University. Huntington University is doing its due diligence but cannot comment further at this time.”
On Thursday, it issued another statement:
“The University has engaged in communication with key stakeholders to begin the necessary work required to ensure the ongoing care of our students.
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.“
Earlier this week, multiple lawyers made appearances in federal court on behalf of the runners, according to court records and documents. The court also issued summons’ to the defendants listed in the lawsuit.
The runners are seeking damages from all involved.