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Home / News / Culture Watch / Biden inauguration priest Rev. Kevin O’Brien under investigation at university
Rev. Kevin O’Brien, center, with Joe and Jill Biden. Photo from O'Brien's Twitter account.

Biden inauguration priest Rev. Kevin O’Brien under investigation at university

A priest who moves in the inner circles of the Biden family is on leave after he exhibited certain “behaviors in adult settings.” Rev. Kevin O’Brien is one of Joe Biden‘s confidants and presided over the President’s inaugural Mass in January.

The Jesuit priest is now on leave from his position as president of Santa Clara University in California.  He’s under investigation for unspecified serious allegations according to the college. The school would not confirm it was in relation to sexual harassment.

O’Brien “exhibited behaviors in adult settings, consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries,” stated John Sobrato, chairman of the college’s board of trustees, in a statement. Sobrato’s comments did not specify the allegations but said the trustees “support those who came forward to share their accounts.”

O’Brien the activist

O’Brien is well known for his campus activism on behalf of LGBT issues.

In 2018, O’Brien penned an op-ed for CNN about homosexuals in the Catholic church. In the piece, titled “Why I’m staying in the Catholic Church,” he wrote “Perhaps the best thing I can do is to reveal my own struggle. Once I muddle through the complexity of emotions and reactions stirring within me, I find the same voice that called me to be a Jesuit 20 years ago: ‘This is your path to growing in faith, hope and love.’ But it is a path more bumpy and crooked than I had imagined back then.”

In 2015 Father O’Brien was the keynote speaker at Georgetown Univerity’s LGBTQ & Ally Conference. While serving as vice president for Mission and Ministry at Georgetown he helped to organize the LGBT campus ministry’s “Coming Out Day”.

He then moved on to Santa Clara in 2019.

Santa Clara, through Sobrato, says that O’Brien will be cooperating with the independent probe while on leave. Results of the investigation will be shared with the Santa Clara University Board of Trustees.

In January, O’Brien gave the service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle for Biden before the inauguration ceremony at the US Capitol.

He also presided over services for Biden’s inauguration as vice president and counseled the family. In his CNN op-ed, O’Brien said he counseled many people scandalized by past revelations of abuse. In numerous writings and interviews, the priest says he was most involved in counseling others, especially students.

When O’Brien met the Biden family 15 years ago, he was serving at Georgetown University, another Jesuit college.

The Associated Press wrote that O’Brien didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tracey Primrose, spokeswoman for the Jesuits West Province, which is overseeing the probe, was quoted in the Mercury News that “Jesuits are held to a professional code of conduct, and the Province investigates allegations that may violate or compromise established boundaries.”

The rep did not elaborate on the investigation.

Santa Clara University alumni include Democrat California Governors Gavin Newsom, currently facing a state-wide recall effort, and Jerry Brown.

–Metro Voice and wire services

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