New motion filed in Eugene Lenti lawsuit


Jonathan Aguilar | The DePaulia

Head Coach Eugene Lenti, pictured here during the Big East Championship, led the Blue Demons to the NCAA Tournament for the 20th time in his tenure with the program.

Dr. Jenny Conviser, who is accusing DePaul of wrongful retaliation under Title IX, breach of contract, defamation and false light, filed a response on Aug. 22 to DePaul’s motion to dismiss the amended complaint from June. 

In June, DePaul filed a motion to dismiss all the charges made by Conviser against the university. 

Conviser’s lawsuit accuses former softball head coach Eugene Lenti of verbally and physically abusing his players and an associate head coach. Lenti, who is also the brother of now-former DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponetto, suddenly retired after the 2018 season. He is currently an assistant softball coach at Auburn University.

DePaul’s legal team, McGuireWoods, claims Conviser is “bootstrapping” herself and her counseling business to Lenti’s sudden exit for personal gain, according to a document obtained by The DePaulia. They say that Conviser, who is suing the university on six counts as previously reported by The DePaulia, has no legal standing with her claims.

“We intend to mount a rigorous defense on behalf of DePaul University to the baseless claims made in the complaint filed by Dr. Conviser,” said Mark Hubbard, a spokesman for DePaul’s legal team.

In Conviser’s new filing, she asks the court to reject “DePaul’s baseless arguments,” because of the severity of the allegations levied against the university and its leadership. 

DePaul is arguing that Conviser has no statutory standing in regards to her Title IX retaliation claim. But in Conviser’s new filing, she says that plaintiffs like her are the parties that Title IX was designed to protect from retaliation. 

“As DePaul’s lead mental health provider for its student-athlete population, Plaintiffs were required by DePaul to participate in the program; to report to the Title IX office and participate in its functions and investigations; and to conduct Title IX training of the University’s key personnel,” the filing reads.

“DePaul can cite to no case on the unique facts presented here in which a court found that Title IX did not apply to someone in Dr. Conviser’s and Ascend’s unique factual situation as compelled Title IX reporters and participants who were retaliated against.”

Conviser is also trying to prove that because she reported Lenti’s alleged verbal abuse in 2016 and found out about Lenti allegedly punching his assistant coach in the face in 2018, DePaul retaliated by terminating her contract in April 2018. 

But DePaul is arguing that those incidents with the university don’t support her retaliation claim because “she alleges no facts connecting those DePaul conversations to DePaul’s decision to stop sending her patients in June 2018.”

In the most recent filing, Conviser dismisses DePaul’s notion that she was a mere “fourth degree” spectator in the Title IX reporting process. 

“Dr. Conviser was significantly more than a ‘mere acquaintance’ to DePaul students, coaches, and staff, or just a ‘drive by’ Plaintiff as DePaul suggests,” the filing reads. “She was integral to the Title IX reporting and compliance process, and for 13 years, she was the sole mental health provider to DePaul student-athletes.”

In DePaul’s motion to dismiss the charges, they attached the contract that was signed between Conviser and the university in 2017. According to the contract, DePaul may refer student-athletes to Ascend — but student-athletes are not required to use any of AscendCHS’s services. 

But Conviser is arguing that DePaul terminating the contract is a violation of the termination clause, which required prior written notice and a cure period. In addition, according to Conviser, DePaul attempted to terminate the contract early without satisfying certain “enumerated grounds, none of which are alleged to have existed here.” 

Hubbard told The DePaulia in June that Conviser was still treating patients as late as March of 2020. But Conviser’s lawyer responded to The DePaulia by saying that she has not seen any.

 “DePaul referred new patients since she blew the whistle on Lenti in 2018 and certainly not since the COVID crisis.”

“As alleged, under the PSA, DePaul could only terminate the PSA in accordance with its terms,” the filing reads. “DePaul breached the termination clause of the PSA by terminating it in retaliation for reporting Lenti’s abuse to the Title IX office.”

In June, four former softball players — Morgan Greenwood, Brianna Viles, Morgan Maize and Angela Scalzitti — refuted the allegations against Lenti in four separate emails to The DePaulia. 

Maize, who played under Lenti from 2012-16, said that the “entire team begged” to have their voices heard when the first lawsuit was filed in April. 

Maize refuted the allegation that Lenti punched associate head coach Lindsay Platt in the face in 2018, saying her exit from DePaul was “entirely planned out” following maternity leave and that the team knew about it before winter break — and that they were told the new coach would like to pick their own coaching staff, offering an explanation for the rest of the staff’s departure after Lenti’s 2018 retirement.

Platt has not responded to The DePaulia’s multiple requests for comment. 

Scalzitti echoed Maize’s refutation.

“The notion that he ‘punched one of his assistant coaches in the face’ is completely ridiculous,” Scalzitti said in an email. “When you are on a team of 20 or so girls nothing can be kept a secret. If one of my teammates witnessed an incident like that, it would have spread across our team like wildfire.”

An Oct. 22 date is set for a hearing on the charges to dismiss the case.