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Biden inauguration priest Rev. Kevin O’Brien under investigation in California

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Father Kevin O'Brien at Santa Clara University on Saturday, March 16, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Photo by Jim Gensheimer)

The Jesuit priest who presided over the inaugural Mass for President Joe Biden is under investigation for unspecified allegations and is on leave from his position as president of Santa Clara University in Northern California, according to a statement from the college’s board of trustees.

Reverend Kevin O’Brien allegedly “exhibited behaviours in adult settings, consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries,” according to the statement by John M. Sobrato, the board chairman.

O’Brien gave the service at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, one of the most prominent Catholic churches in Washington, in January for Mr Biden, 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.

The priest has known Mr 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’s statement, posted Thursday, 18 March, to the university’s website, didn’t specify what the allegations are against O’Brien but said the trustees “support those who came forward to share their accounts.”

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.

Tracey Primrose, spokeswoman for the Jesuits West Province, which is overseeing the investigation, didn’t elaborate on the probe.

“Jesuits are held to a professional code of conduct, and the Province investigates allegations that may violate or compromise established boundaries,” Primrose 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 Govs. Gavin Newsom and Jerry Brown among its alumni.

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