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Punta Gorda priest cleared of wrongdoing after allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor

Father Jerry Kaywell has been on administrative leave since late January when the Diocese first learned of the allegations.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Punta Gorda
Posted at 1:03 PM, Mar 15, 2024

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — The Diocese of Venice Florida has confirmed that Father Jerry Kaywell of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Punta Gorda, will return to the church following an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor.

Kaywell has been on administrative leave since late January when the Diocese received notice that a sexual misconduct with a minor allegation had been filed against him.

Bishop Frank Dewane wrote a letter to Sacred Heart parishioners informing them of the investigation's findings. According to Dewane, the "alleged victim withdrew his allegation, and an apology was written by the accuser declaring it was a false memory."

Diocese of Venice Letter
Letter to Sacred Heart Parishioners

Initially, on January 26, Dewane wrote a letter to Sacred Heart parishioners informing them of the allegation.

The letter also stated an investigation would be conducted by Diocese leaders and community members.

A spokesperson for the Diocese confirmed to Fox 4 that the investigation yielded no evidence that Kaywell had participated in misconduct.

"The investigation has been completed, and Father Kaywell has been cleared of any allegations of misconduct. Father Kaywell will be returning to Sacred Heart Parish, and his good name has been restored."

The Punta Gorda Police Department confirmed to Fox 4 on Feb. 6, and again March 15, that no criminal accusation had been made against Kaywell in its jurisdiction.

The Diocese said Kaywell will officially return to Sacred Heart on March 17, but will not be present as he is out of the country.