The state Ethics Board’s staff has said that a prosecutor with the Kenner city attorney’s office cannot participate in a city-supervised diversion program for accused domestic abusers.
That’s what Christopher Weddle was discovered by WWL-TV to be doing last year as the head of a counseling service called Diversion Resources.
The board’s advisory opinion was requested by Mayor Mike Yenni’s administration and is on the agenda for consideration by the board at its monthly meeting in Baton Rouge on Friday.
Diversion Resources was the only one of five contractors approved by the city that offered a 16-week course. The other four offered the state-mandated 26-week course.
Weddle’s office is the source of all diversion referrals. WWL-TV reported in November that the form given to defendants who enter the program notes that Diversion Resources offers the short course.
Kenner officials responded to that report saying they didn’t know Weddle was behind Diversion Resources and that they would look into the issue.
Yenni’s office referenced the ethics board draft opinion Thursday at the bottom of a news release that touted a new policy requiring all the diversion programs be 26 weeks long and include licensed medical health professionals including social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists.
“I agree with the draft opinion issued by the Board of Ethics,” Yenni said. “When I learned that a prosecutor in the Kenner city attorney’s office was also providing counseling services to domestic violence offenders, I immediately suspended that practice and relied on an Ethics Board opinion to validate my own concerns.”