The Jesuit priest who delivered the homily at a special Mass for the inauguration of President Joe Biden has resigned as president of Santa Clara University over allegations of misconduct stemming from drunken dinners with graduate students.
The Rev Kevin O’Brien announced he was stepping down from the post he had occupied since July 2019 effective Monday, two months after he had been put on leave pending an internal investigation into his conduct.
John Sobrato, chairman of SCU’s Board of Trustees, stated in a letter addressed to the college community that the investigation conducted by the Jesuit West Province found that O’Brien ‘engaged in behaviors, consisting primarily of conversations, during a series of informal dinners with Jesuit graduate students that were inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries.
‘The Province also advised the Board that alcohol was involved and that no inappropriate behavior was found in any settings outside of these dinners.’
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Rev Kevin O’Brien (center), who in January presided over a Mass for President Biden (left), on Sunday offered his resignation as president of Santa Clara University
O’Brien had been on leave since mid-March over allegations of misconduct involving boozy dinners with graduate students
Sobrato’s statement revealed that O’Brien offered his resignation to the Board of Trustees on Sunday, and that it was accepted the following day.
‘The Board of Trustees takes this situation very seriously and fully supports those who came forward to provide their accounts,’ Sobrato stated.
In a letter published on Wednesday, O’Brien confirmed that he was stepping down as head of the university and cited his personal issues related to ‘alcohol and stress management.
O’Brien revealed that in early March, he was approached by the Rev. Scott Santarosa, provincial of the Jesuits West, who had told him he was concerned about his ‘well-being.’
‘These concerns were based on accounts of my behavior over the past year in certain social settings with adults that did not meet the highest standards of decorum expected of me as a Jesuit,’ O’Brien wrote.
O’Brien has known Joe and Jill Biden for 15 years. On January 20, he delivered the homily at a special Mass for the inauguration of the nation’s second Catholic president
Joe and Jill Biden are seen attending services at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle with with O’Brien presiding prior to the inauguration
At the conclusion of the internal probe, Santarosa asked O’Brien to enter a treatment program to address his personal struggles.
‘In April, I entered an outpatient or nonresidential treatment program, which many Jesuits over the years have found helpful in living a full, healthy life of service,’ wrote the priest. ‘In my case, the program is expected to take four to six months.’
Upon completing the treatment, O’Brien is expected to return to ‘active ministry as a Jesuit priest,’ but not as the president of Santa Clara University.
‘After much prayer and thought and out of deep love for Santa Clara, I have concluded that the best service I can offer to our beloved university is to step aside now,’ he stated.
The Board of Trustees will establish a process to conduct a search for the university’s next president.
In a letter, O’Brien confirmed he was stepping down over his personal issues involving ‘alcohol and stress management,’ and was entering treatment program
SCU Provost Lisa Kloppenberg will continue serving as the university’s acting president until a permanent replacement is found.
O’Brien presided over the inaugural Mass at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, one of the most prominent Catholic churches in Washington, in January for Biden, who is the nation’s second Catholic president, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris, their families and elected officials before the inauguration ceremony at the US Capitol.
O’Brien also presided over services for Biden’s inaugurations as vice president.
After leaving behind his career as a lawyer, O’Brien joined the Society of Jesus in 1996, according to the university, and was ordained to the priesthood in 2006.
The priest has known Biden’s family for about 15 years, according to the university. O’Brien was then serving at Georgetown University, another Jesuit college.