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Huntington University asks federal judge to dismiss sex abuse, doping lawsuit

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — Huntington University is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit from two former cross country athletes claiming ‘Nassaresque’ abuse while at the university.

Attorneys for the Christian university filed the motion to dismiss Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Northern Indiana.

Huntington’s motion argues the two women have failed to state a claim under Title IX, the federal policy that prohibits discrimination in education based on sex or gender. The attorneys also want any remaining claims to be heard in a state court.

The women, Hanna Stoffel and Emma Wilson, filed the suit in September, claiming now-former Huntington University cross country and track coach Nick Johnson inappropriately touched female athletes, manipulated them, sexually assaulted them and injected them with substances.

News 8 does not typically name the victims of sexual assault but is doing so in this case with the consent of the women and their attorneys.

The suit compared Johnson to both Larry Nassar, who was convicted of rape after being the team doctor of the U.S. women’s national gymnastics team, and the physician for Lance Armstrong, the cycling champion stripped of titles due to blood doping.

“Despite making hundreds of detailed allegations in their Complaint, the Plaintiffs have utterly failed to allege within their narrative the fundamental and necessary facts sufficient to plausibly plead a Title IX violation,” Huntington’s attorneys wrote in their legal brief. “In fact, as the Plaintiffs themselves concede, when the University became aware of allegations against Nicholas Johnson that did not arise out of his employment with the University, it acted quickly to remove him from his position at the University.”

Following the lawsuit, the university placed two cross country coaches on administrative leave, and promised an independent, external review of the allegations and the university’s Title IX and Sexual Misconduct policies and procedures.