Man’s false memory turns innocent priest into victim

False memory

A priest became the victim of a man’s false memory after the priest was wrongly accused of sexually abusing a minor.

After alleging Fr Jerome Kaywell had abused him in 2013 and 2014, the unnamed accuser recanted his claims.

He went on to apologise in writing to Kaywell.

He excused himself, declaring his allegation was the product of a false memory.

The Grammy award-winning priest was subsequently completely cleared of any allegation of sexual misconduct.

His bishop says the matter is closed and Kaywell’s good name has been restored.

But Kaywell had “skin in the game”.

Between the time the allegation first materialised on 26 January and when the diocese cleared him for pastoral duties on 14 March, a damaging chain reaction set off.

Major investigation

On 26 January Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida (Kaywell’s diocese) “received notification from a law firm of an allegation against Kaywell of sexual misconduct”.

From there fallout flew far and wide.

The bishop’s office promptly informed the Police, telling them the alleged victim had been a minor.

Kaywell was immediately placed on administrative leave.

His parishioners learned of the allegation when Dewane wrote informing them of the allegation.

He told them Diocese leaders and community members would be conducting an investigation into the alleged offending.

Not guilty

Even though the complainant soon admitted his faulty memory had created the allegation from nothing, and Police confirmed no criminal accusation had been made, Kaywell’s problem didn’t just go away.

His diocese continued to investigate the matter on its own account.

This was in accordance with diocesan policy, Dewane says.

The diocesan review board met earlier this month to examine the investigatory report and all aspects of the matter.

Members unanimously concluded that “there was no evidence to support the allegation” Dewane told Kaywell’s parishioners.

“The Diocesan Review Board recommended that Father Kaywell be returned to ministry” he wrote.

“I have accepted their recommendation and inform you that Father Kaywell has been returned to ministry, effective immediately.

“Therefore, I consider the matter closed and the good name of Father Jerome Kaywell restored” the bishop confirmed.



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News category: World.

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