The Jesuit priest who presided over the Mass that President Joe Biden attended at his inauguration is now under investigation.
The Rev. Kevin O’Brien, president of Santa Clara University in California, has been put on leave with officials refusing to explain what exactly he is accused of doing, according to The San Jose Mercury News, which called the investigation a “stunning development.”
“I have been informed by the Provincial of the USA West Province that the Jesuit Provincial Office recently received accounts that Father O’Brien exhibited behaviors in adult settings, consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries,” Sobrato wrote.
“An independent investigation into these accounts is being conducted on behalf of the USA West Province and the conclusions of the Province’s process will be shared with the Santa Clara University Board of Trustees,” he said.
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“Father O’Brien was placed on leave from his position as University President for the duration of the investigation by the USA West Province consistent with its protocols.”
Sobrato said the priest “has agreed to cooperate fully with the investigation and honor the process that he affirms annually as part of his ongoing Jesuit training.”
“The Trustees support those who came forward to share their accounts. It is important that anyone who witnesses actions they believe are inconsistent with SCU’s values or rules is able to share their concerns and have confidence that they will be taken seriously,” he wrote.
The trustees “respect Father O’Brien’s right to a fair and impartial investigation, and we appreciate his strong belief that any complaints involving him should be held to the highest standard and carefully and independently investigated,” Sobrato said.
He said the trustees will let the college community know when the investigation is complete but have nothing further to say until then.
O’Brien has not provided any public comment on his being placed on leave.
Tracey Primrose, a spokeswoman for the Jesuits West Province, provided The Mercury News a general statement in response to questions.
“Jesuits are held to a professional code of conduct, and the Province investigates allegations that may violate or compromise established boundaries,” Primrose said.
“As with any organization,” she continued, “the Jesuits West Province has confidentiality practices, which is why I cannot provide any additional information regarding this matter.”
Norman Kline, a member of the university’s Board of Fellows, which raises funds for the college, said he was surprised by the announcement.
“He’s terrific,” Kline said. “I think everybody liked him.”
He said that he wished the statement “could have been more open” but he recognized the need for privacy to protect O’Brien’s reputation.
Biden knew O’Brien from the priest’s past service at Georgetown University, and the two had been friends for about 15 years, according to the New York Post.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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