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Former Runners File Lawsuit Alleging Sexual Assault by Coach

October 7, 2022

Two former runners at Huntington University in Indiana have filed a federal lawsuit against their former coach, alleging sexual assault and potential doping violations. The suit also names the private Christian university and its Board of Trustees, alleging that they failed to protect the student athletes, subjecting them to discrimination and thereby violating their Title IX rights.

The suit accuses former cross-country coach Nicholas Johnson of giving plaintiffs Hannah Stoffel and Emma Wilson “Larry Nassar-esque massages all the while acting like Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France pharmacist injecting unknown substances into their bodies.”

It alleges that Johnson “had sexual contact with multiple students” on the Huntington cross-country and track teams and that he raped Stoffel on several occasions. Johnson also allegedly administered “treatments” that included “infusing/injecting his athletes with unknown substances as well as giving out pills.”

Johnson was fired from Huntington following his arrest in 2020 for kidnapping and seducing a child and identity deception after he posed as an official from the University of Oregon to take a high school runner on a “recruiting trip.”

Johnson received a plea deal in that case after the child seduction and kidnapping charges were dropped.

Stoffel and Wilson have requested a jury trial and are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

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Susan H. Greenberg

Susan H. Greenberg is a senior editor at Inside Higher Ed. A career journalist and educator, she joined the publication in August 2021 after eight years in Vermont, where she freelanced and taught writing at Middlebury College and Champlain College. Prior to that, she spent 22 years writing and editing for Newsweek magazine, where she covered everything from international affairs to arts and culture. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and River Teeth, among others. She has taught English and journalism at Phillips Academy, where she served as an advisor to the student newspaper. She holds a B.A. in English from Brown University and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia. The mother of three nearly adult children, she is very much enjoying her newly empty nest.

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