Biden’s inaugural priest Father Kevin O’Brien is put on leave as president of Santa Clara University over claims of misconduct ‘in an adult setting’
- Santa Clara said on Thursday that Father O’Brien is on administrative leave
- University is investigating claims of inappropriate conduct ‘in an adult setting’
- The allegations consisted ‘primarily of conversations’ O’Brien is said to have had
- O’Brien celebrated a Roman Catholic Mass for Joe Biden’s inauguration
The Catholic priest who celebrated a special Mass for President Joe Biden‘s inauguration has been placed on administrative leave as president of Santa Clara University over allegations of misconduct.
Father Kevin O’Brien is under investigation over claims that he ‘exhibited behaviors in adult settings, consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries,’ the university said on Thursday.
A statement from Santa Clara board of trustees chairman John M. Sobrato did not specify the allegations against O’Brien but said the trustees ‘support those who came forward to share their accounts.’
O’Brien gave the service at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, one of the most prominent Catholic churches in Washington, in January for Biden, who is the nation’s second Catholic president, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris, their families and elected officials before the inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.
Father Kevin O’Brien has been friends with the Biden family for some 15 years. O’Brien also presided over services for Biden’s inaugurations as vice president
Joe and Jill Biden are seen attending services at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle with with O’Brien presiding prior to the January 20 inauguration
O’Brien also presided over services for Biden’s inaugurations as vice president.
The priest has known Biden’s family for about 15 years, according to the university.
O’Brien was then serving at Georgetown University, another Jesuit college. O’Brien has been president of Santa Clara University since July 2019.
Sobrato said that while O’Brien is on leave, the priest will be cooperating with the independent investigation, with conclusions to be shared with the Santa Clara University Board of Trustees. O’Brien didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The allegations were first shared with the Jesuit West Provincial Office, which shared them with the Santa Clara board of trustees on March 16 and 17, Sobrato said.
Father Kevin O’Brien is seen with Joe and Jill Biden delivering a blessing in 2010. The longtime friend of the Biden family is now under investigation over misconduct claims
Tracey Primrose, spokeswoman for the Jesuits West Province, which is overseeing the investigation, did not elaborate on the investigations to The Mercury News.
‘Jesuits are held to a professional code of conduct, and the Province investigates allegations that may violate or compromise established boundaries,’ Primrose told the newspaper.
Primrose did not immediately respond to The Associated Press’ request for comment Thursday night.
Santa Clara Provost Lisa Kloppenberg will serve as Acting President of Santa Clara University while he O’Brien is on leave.
O’Brien is under investigation over claims that he ‘exhibited behaviors in adult settings, consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries,’ the university said
O’Brien joined the Society of Jesus in 1996, according to the university, and was ordained to the priesthood in 2006.
Located in Silicon Valley, the Jesuit institution has an annual undergraduate enrollment of roughly 5,500 students.
Ranked as one of the top 25 schools for undergraduate teaching nationwide, the private university has a million-dollar endowment and counts California Governors Gavin Newsom and Jerry Brown among its alumni.