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SCU president, Jesuit priest on leave amid allegations of misconduct ‘in adult settings’

A Santa Clara Jesuit priest who presided over an inaugural Mass for President Joe Biden remained silent Friday following unspecified allegations of misconduct.

Rev. Kevin O’Brien, the president of Santa Clara University, was placed on leave earlier this week amid allegations that he “exhibited behaviors in adult settings, consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries,” according to a statement from John M. Sobrato, the chair of the Santa Clara University Board of Trustees.

O’Brien, 54, met the Bidens about 15 years ago while he was serving at Georgetown University, a Washington D.C. Jesuit college. O’Brien gave the Inauguration Day Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington for President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and their families. He also presided over services for Biden’s inauguration as vice president.

O’Brien was appointed president of the university in 2019. Before becoming president, he served there as dean of the Jesuit School of Theology.

While the statement did not specify the allegations against O’Brien, it said trustees “support those who came forward to share their accounts.”

The statement said:

“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.”

Sobrato said the priest will be cooperating with the investigation. O’Brien did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

O’Brien joined the Society of Jesus in 1996, according to the university’s website, and was ordained to the priesthood in 2006.

Provost Lisa Kloppenberg will serve as acting president until the Jesuit order completes its investigation.

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