Santa Clara University President Accused of Misconduct, SNAP Calls for More Detail

SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [Chicago IL]

March 19, 2021

By Melanie Sakoda and Zach Hiner

The president of a Jesuit university in the Bay Area is under investigation for “alleged misconduct and comments.” We call on university officials to be more transparent regarding the allegations so as to encourage others who may have experienced similar misconduct to come forward.

Father Kevin O’Brien, the president of Santa Clara University, has been placed on leave while an investigation into his alleged misconduct is underway. 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. In January, Fr. O’Brien presided over the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

This is not the first time that a high-ranking Jesuit official has been accused of misconduct. Notable examples include Bishop Gordon Bennet, who resigned as the Bishop of Mandeville, Jamaica, and Fr. John Leary, who was the President of Gonzaga University and abruptly left the state after being accused of abuse. Powerful men in powerful positions can use those positions to harm others, and so we believe that officials at SCU owe greater transparency to their community.

University officials should be clearer about the nature of the alleged misconduct so that they can be more targeted in outreach to possible victims and witnesses and so others who may have experienced similar misconduct will be encouraged that their claims will be taken seriously. We hope that SCU will work to clarify the situation soon and be more open and transparent about this and other allegations of misconduct in the future.

CONTACT: Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator (, 925-708-6175), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009,

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is