The Catholic priest who celebrated a special Mass for then President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration is being investigated and has been put on administrative leave as president of Santa Clara University over allegations of misconduct. Rev. Kevin O'Brien allegedly "exhibited behaviors in adult settings" and is investigated for "impropriety," according to a Santa Clara University statement.
O'Brien, 54, besides being a telegenic Jesuit is also a family friend of the Biden for over 15 years. However, the university statement did not clearly specify the allegations against O'Brien as the investigation is still on but said the trustees "support those who came forward to share their accounts."
In the Net
According to the statement released by the university, O'Brien is being investigated after claims were made 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. However, the statement from Santa Clara board of trustees chairman John M Sobrato didn't specify what exactly his behavior was.
"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," the statement on the university's website read.
O'Brien is currently on leave but the priest will be cooperating with the independent probe, with conclusions to be shared with the Santa Clara University Board of Trustees.
That said the investigations could be related to sexual harassment which O'Brian has spoken about earlier too.
Biden's Longtime Friend
O'Brien has been a strong advocate of transparency over the Catholic Church's allegations, and had even said in 2018 that several students approached him with issues and allegations of sexual misconduct and cover up in the church. He had also said that he struggled with whether or not to stay in the church. "Do I stay or do I go? I can only say please dig deep, discern the voices. The Church will set us free," he said, according to the university's transcript of the talk.
However, what has raised more eyebrows is that O'Brian happens to be Biden's long time friend. In January, he gave his services at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle for Biden as well as Vice President Kamala Harris, their families and elected officials before the inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. Biden is the nation's second only Catholic president. The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle is one of the most prominent Catholic churches in Washington.
He also presided over services for Biden's inauguration as vice president during Barrack Obama's term. He was then serving at Georgetown University, another Jesuit college.
The allegations against O'Brian 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.
However, nothing so far is clear about the allegations and the investigation. "As with any organization, the Jesuits West Province has confidentiality practices, which is why I cannot provide any additional information regarding this matter," Tracey Primrose, spokeswoman for the Jesuits West Province said.