Florida diocese places Grammy-winning priest on leave amid sexual misconduct allegations — By: Catholic News Agency

Father Jerome “Jerry” Kaywell, a Grammy award-winning musician, has been placed on leave amid claims of sexual misconduct with a minor that allegedly occurred years ago. / Credit: Jerry Kaywell YouTube page

CNA Staff, Feb 9, 2024 / 16:30 pm (CNA).

A Florida diocese has placed a prominent priest on leave amid claims of sexual misconduct with a minor that allegedly occurred years ago. 

Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, said in a letter to parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda that the diocese had “received notification from a law firm of an allegation of sexual misconduct by Rev. Jerome Kaywell with someone who was a minor at the time.”

The incident in question “allegedly occurred in the winter of 2013/2014,” Dewane wrote in the letter. 

The bishop said that upon learning of the allegation he “placed Father Kaywell on administrative leave pending a preliminary investigation,” per diocesan policy. 

The prelate said that Kaywell “denies that the allegation is true and maintains he is innocent.”

“We pray for the relief of the pain and suffering experienced by all victims,” Dewane wrote. “We pray that the Lord of Truth and Light will guide us all in his ways!” 

“Further, these are very painful times for Father Kaywell, all involved in the allegation, and also for all of you, as well as the clergy and myself,” the bishop added. “Let us remain united in prayer.”

Kaywell is known for having established a musical and advertising career before becoming a priest. In 1985 he recorded a Grammy-winning album, “Let My People Go,” with the gospel group the Winans. He was ordained in 1991 and has released two more albums since then. 

As of Friday, Kaywell was no longer listed on the parish’s list of priests and deacons.

Reached on Friday, diocesan spokeswoman Karen Barry Schwarz said the diocese had no update on the status of the investigation. 

Kaywell’s LinkedIn page says the priest was pastor of the Punta Gorda church from 2004 onward. He attended both St. Francis University and St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary.

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