LAKE CHARLES -- The Diocese of Lake Charles received an excellent mark in its recent audit of the Safe Environment Program.  The Gavin Group, an independent agency, located in Massachusetts and contracted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has been responsible for audits of the dioceses of the United States to review procedures and to ensure the protection of children and young people each fiscal year.
The Diocese is in compliance and has been promoting safeguards by having in-service meetings on a regular basis for employees, catechists, students, and new employees.  Clergy, religious, and seminarians are in compliance and continue to be updated annually in their knowledge of promoting a safe environment for all children. These annual updates are available on the Diocese of Lake Charles website –  The Diocese also requires those working with children to undergo a mandatory criminal background check through the local city and parish police agencies.
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People requires dioceses to provide “safe environment” training each year to those employees and volunteers who have “regular” contact with children. In addition, dioceses were asked to establish a victims’ assistance office that could provide a point of contact for persons who may have been sexually abused by someone working under diocesan auspices.  Mr. Scott Riviere, a licensed youth counselor and Catholic layperson, has been appointed by Bishop Glen John Provost to be the Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese, taking over the post on July 1. Father Whitney Miller will continue to serve as Victims’ Assistance Coordinator until then. The Diocese also had implemented on its website information on how to contact officials of the Diocese to report child sexual abuse.
Mrs. Bernell Ezell, Director of Child and Youth Protection for the Diocese, has been instrumental in working with church parishes and Catholic Schools to have everyone in compliance with the safe environment guidelines.  Mrs. Ezell provides training for all adults who have regular contact with children through Safe Environment Initial Training Sessions, which are held in the diocesan Chancery and in the churches of the diocese.
For more information on initial training sessions please contact Bernell Ezell at the Diocese at 337-439-7400, Ext. 305.