Title IX charge against DePaul dismissed in Lenti abuse case


Jonathan Aguilar

Former softball coach Eugene Lenti pictured at the 2018 Big East Championship.

DePaul’s motion to dismiss Count I — Title IX charges — in a case brought by Jenny Conviser last year was recently granted by the United States District Court of the Illinois Eastern division, according to a document obtained by The DePaulia. 

Conviser worked as a sports psychologist at DePaul for over a decade before the university terminated her contract in 2018.

The court found that Conviser does not have Title IX statutory standing because she wasn’t an employee at DePaul in an educational program and wasn’t deprived of receiving an educational program. 

The court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction on Counts II and III, which involve state law claims. That means that those counts will not be automatically dismissed alongside the Title IX claim made by Conviser. 

“The Court concludes that Plaintiffs do not have statutory standing to bring a Title IX claim against DePaul, and as such, Count I is dismissed,” part of the document read.

Lenti Title IX Dismissed by DePaulia on Scribd

Conviser filed her lawsuit last April, alleging that DePaul retaliated by firing her after she reported former softball head coach Eugene Lenti for allegedly verbally and physically abusing his players and an assistant coach. She accused DePaul of wrongful retaliation under Title IX, breach of contract,defamation and false light. 

The case was moved to federal court last June. Conviser has previously said that she was at the center of taking on former athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto and taking down Lenti by having him eventually separated from DePaul for his abusive conduct to his players.

The court considered whether Conviser “falls within the zone of interests protected by the law invoked.” 

In its argument, DePaul cited a total of seven cases in an effort to show that Conviser doesn’t fall within those zones of interests that would allow her to make a Title IX claim. 

According to the court, Conviser failed to establish two tests to establish a Title IX claim: She must allege a sufficient connection between herself and the individuals who were discriminated against, and she must allege the claim’s three elements — first, she engaged in a statutorily protected activity, second, DePaul took adverse action against her and third, there existed a but-for causal connection between the first two. 

DePaul argued that Conviser did not have a close enough relationship with the reporting students to establish a retaliation claim. Conviser, on the other hand, said that she was an “integral” part in the reporting process. 

The court sided with DePaul’s argument because Conviser never met with any of the students who filed these complaints against Lenti. As a result, the court doesn’t believe that firing Conviser would deter students from reporting discrmination. 

In June, four former DePaul softball players came forward to deny allegations of abuse by Lenti. Morgan Greenwood, Morgan Maize, Angela Scalzitti and Brianna Viles wrote to The DePaulia that Lenti never verbally or physically abused them.

The DePaulia has tried multiple times to reach out to the assistant coach that Lenti allegedly punched in the face, but has received no response. Lenti, meanwhile, is currently an assistant softball coach at Auburn University. 

Conviser’s legal team has until April 21 to file an amended complaint asserting a claim that the court has original jurisdiction. If no complaint is filed, then the dismissal of Count I will convert to one with prejudice and Counts II and III will also be dismissed without prejudice for refiling in state court.