Change of venue sought for ex-Huntington U coach charged with sexual battery

Nicholas Johnson
Nicholas Johnson(Huntington County Sheriff's Department)
Published: May. 1, 2023 at 11:03 AM EDT
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HUNTINGTON COUNTY, Ind. (WPTA) - Attorneys representing an ex-Huntington University cross country coach who was fired following accusations of sexual abuse involving student-athletes are seeking to have his case tried in a different county.

Nicholas Johnson is facing sexual battery and battery charges stemming from an incident in July 2020. Court documents detailing the allegations have not been released.

Those charges follow a civil lawsuit that was filed by two of Johnson’s former athletes, claiming Johnson sexually harassed them and injected them with an unknown substance.

READ MORE: Attorney representing former Huntington University athletes detail abuse allegations

On April 28, court records show Johnson’s attorneys filed a motion for a change of venue. They argue Johnson would not be able to receive a fair trial in Huntington County. They say the “public outrage” over Johnson’s sentence in a previous case involving inappropriate conduct with a child is now heightened by new allegations against him.

Johnson was sentenced to 30 days in jail in February 2022 after pleading guilty to identity deception. He had previously faced two counts of child seduction and one count of kidnapping, but the charges were dropped in a plea deal. Court documents say Johnson used a phony email account to communicate with a child and took the victim out of state without her parents’ knowledge.

In the motion, attorneys say the “vast” publicity of these cases has cast Johnson’s character in a “poor light”, saying such comments place his right to a fair and impartial trial in “great jeopardy”. Attorneys say because of this, he could not have a fair trial in Huntington County or several adjoining counties.

Johnson is next set to appear in court on May 9 for a pretrial conference.

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