DePaul’s former softball coach allegedly punched assistant in the face, verbally abused players

Former DePaul softball coach Eugene Lenti allegedly punched an assistant in the face and abused his players verbally during his tenure, but never faced any repercussions for his actions, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday. Those who dealt with consequences with regards to these accusations included the whistleblower, whose contract was terminated with the school, and the assistant who was punched, the Associated Press reported.

Jenny Conviser, a sports psychologist who used to work for DePaul, said in her lawsuit that she lost her position with the school in April 2018 because she raised concerns to the athletic department about Lenti’s behavior. She had worked for DePaul since 2005 and had recently negotiated a four-year extension on her contract in 2017, according to her lawsuit.

The termination came a few weeks after one of Conviser’s therapists said a softball player witnessed Lenti punching an assistant coach in the face. The player reported the issue to the school’s Title IX office, but the investigation resulted in the investigator disclosing the name of the player who complained to the team. Her teammates blamed her for getting the coach in trouble, per the lawsuit.

Conviser says in the lawsuit that she first began hearing about Lenti’s alleged behavior in 2016, when he was accused of using profane language to verbally abuse players. There was no investigation into those allegations, a violation of Title IX. According to the lawsuit, it’s believed that Lenti avoided investigation and punishment for these accusations because his sister, Jean Lenti Ponsetto, serves as DePaul’s athletic director.

The sports psychologist is suing DePaul for wrongful retaliation and defaming her reputation, seeking unspecified damages. Her defamation accusation stems from allegations that DePaul is libeling her to other potential employers with statements such as, “Dr. Conviser is incompetent and frequently gets her facts wrong and thus cannot be trusted in a professional capacity.”

When the Associated Press asked Lenti — who retired in June after 37 years on the job, but later became an assistant at Auburn –about the lawsuit over the phone, he responded “Yeah, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” and hung up. A spokesman for DePaul told the AP that the school had “not yet seen a copy of this complaint, but as a general matter the university does not comment on pending litigation.” Auburn did not respond to the AP.

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