On Thursday, Santa Clara University issued a statement confirming that Father Kevin O’Brien had been placed on leave. O’Brien was the priest who served during the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20, 2021. Now, the university president faces claims of misconduct “in an adult setting” and has been removed from his position of power at the institution, pending an investigation.
According to the statement published by the university on Thursday, Father Kevin O’Brien “exhibited behaviors in adult settings, consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries.”
Although the Santa Clara Santa Clara board of trustees chairman John M. Sobrato did not confirm the exact allegations made against Biden’s inaugural priest, Sobrato did say that trustees “support those who came forward to share their accounts.”
Biden attended O’Brien’s service at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, which is one of the most prominent Catholic churches in Washington, D.C. Biden is the second Catholic United States president behind John F. Kennedy. Vice President Kamala Harris and both her and Biden’s families attended O’Brien’s service before they traveled to the official inauguration ceremony at the United States Capitol.
O’Brien previously presided over Biden’s inauguration as vice president when he was teamed up with Barack Obama. According to the university, O’Brien has been connected to Biden and his family for at least fifteen years. At the time of his vice presidential inaugurations, O’Brien served at Georgetown University. He became president of Santa Clara University in July 2019.
Before Santa Clara University heard about the allegations against Father O’Brien on March 16 and 17, the Jesuit West Provincial Office received word from the source.
In conversation with The Mercury News, Tracey Primrose, spokeswoman for the Jesuits West Province, which is in charge of the investigation into O’Brien’s misconduct, did not specify or elaborate on the allegations or the details of the investigation.
“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.
While O’Brien is on leave, Santa Clara University will welcome Santa Clara Provost Lisa Kloppenberg as acting president.
O’Brien joined the Society of Jesus in 1996 and has been an ordained priest since 2006. Santa Clara University is located in Silicon Valley and has a moderately sized undergraduate population of 5,500 students each year.
Santa Clara University continually ranks in the top 25 best schools for undergraduate teaching across the United States. The private university has an endowment of a million dollars and includes California governors Gavin Newsome and Jerry Brown as alumni. Nevertheless, the school may need to fight to uphold its reputation depending on what Father O’Brien allegedly did to another person.
Members of the public are not happy that Father O’Brien led Biden’s inaugural event. Although the allegations against the priest have not yet been made public, people are concerned because he was removed from the role of the university’s president while the investigation was done.
What do you think about Biden’s inaugural priest’s alleged misconduct?
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