After investigation, priest who presided at Biden inaugural Mass resigns as Santa Clara U president


“The province also advised the board that alcohol was involved and that no inappropriate behavior was found in any settings outside of these dinners,” Sobrato said. “The board of trustees takes this situation very seriously and fully supports those who came forward to provide their accounts.”

Sobrato said O’Brien notified the trustees of his intention to resign on May 9 and the board accepted his resignation May 10. The board will immediately begin the process to search for his successor, Sobrato said.

In a May 12 letter to the university community, O’Brien said that in early March his Jesuit provincial, Father Scott Santarosa, had voiced concerns to him “about my 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,” he said. “The province investigated these concerns, and based on the results of that review, Father Santarosa asked me to enter a therapeutic program to address related personal issues, including my use of alcohol and stress management.”

O’Brien said he wrote his letter with “a heavy heart but clear mind.” He said he fully cooperated with the province’s investigation process.

“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,” the priest added. “In my case, the program is expected to take four to six months.”

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“It is important to have friends in your life, as I do now, who can speak honestly when they are concerned about you,” O’Brien’s letter said. “Equally important, no matter the success or positions you achieve in life, everyone needs help at times, and it is okay to ask for help when you need it, and to allow others to care for you.”

On March 15 Sobrato had announced unspecified allegations that O’Brien “exhibited behaviors in adult settings, consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries.” Sobrato asked any witnesses of inappropriate behavior to contact the Jesuits’ provincial office.

In his May letter to the university community, O’Brien said his extended absence would not serve the university well as the coronavirus pandemic ends. His resignation would allow the university board to begin the search for a successor, he said. He would not know whether or how he can return until the conclusion of the treatment program, he added.


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