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Advocates urge transparency in Biden priest investigation

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — A prominent victims advocate group on Friday urged Santa Clara University in Northern California to release details about unspecified allegations against its president, a Jesuit priest who presided over an inaugural Mass for President Joe Biden and is now under investigation.

The university said Thursday that the Rev. Kevin O’Brien allegedly “exhibited behaviors in adult settings, consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries.” He is currently on leave from the Catholic university.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, released a statement Friday calling on university officials to be more transparent about the accusations “so as to encourage others who may have experienced similar misconduct to come forward.”

“While we appreciate that action has been taken by the Santa Clara board of trustees, we think that the vague statement released by the university does no favors to either the university community or the alleged victims,” the statement said.

Tracey Primrose, spokeswoman for the Jesuits West Province, which is overseeing the investigation, would not elaborate on the allegations in a statement to The Associated Press.

“Jesuits are held to a professional code of conduct, and the Province investigates allegations that may violate or compromise established boundaries,” she said. “As with any organization, the Jesuits West Province has confidentiality practices, which is why I cannot provide any additional information regarding this matter.”

O’Brien gave the service at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, one of the most prominent Catholic churches in Washington, D.C., in January for Biden, who is the nation’s second Catholic president, before the inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.

The priest has known Biden for about 15 years, dating back to when he was serving at Georgetown University, and he also presided over services for Biden’s vice presidential inaugurations.

The private Jesuit institution, located in the Silicon Valley, is ranked as one of the top 25 schools for undergraduate teaching nationwide. California Govs. Gavin Newsom and Jerry Brown are among its alumni.

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