Punta Gorda Catholic priest cleared of child sexual abuse allegations

WBBH - NBC 2 [Fort Myers FL]

March 19, 2024

By Summerleigh Stones

A Punta Gorda priest has been cleared and will not be charged after the alleged victim withdrew their claims of child sexual abuse, according to a new statement.

In February, the Rev. Jerome Kaywell, at Sacred Heart Punta Gorda, was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor in the winter of 2013/2014.

Throughout the investigation, the Diocese of Venice stated that Father Kaywell maintained his innocence and denied the allegations.

A new statement claims that the allegations were taken seriously and acted upon in accord with the Diocesan Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults.

Due to the case involving a minor, the State Attorney’s Office was also notified.

On Feb. 13, the Diocese received a letter from the Law firm representing the alleged victim. The letter stated, “The alleged victim withdrew his allegation, and an apology was written by the accuser, declaring it was a false memory.”

The Diocese said a review board met in March and determined there was no evidence to support the allegation.

The letter also stated the Diocesan Review Board recommended that Father Kaywell be returned to ministry.