The Jesuit priest who presided over an inaugural Mass for President Joe Biden has been placed under investigation for alleged behaviours "which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries."
The investigation was announced by Santa Clara University in Northern California where Rev Kevin O'Brien has served as university president.
In a statement, the college's board of trustees said it had been informed by the Provincial of the USA West Province that the Jesuit Provincial Office recently received accounts concerning alleged behaviours exhibited by Fr O'Brien "in adult settings consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries."
It added that O'Brien had also been placed on leave from his position as president for the duration of the investigation, which is being carried out by the Jesuit Provincial Office of the USA West Province.
"He has agreed to cooperate fully with the investigation and honor the process that he affirms annually as part of his ongoing Jesuit training," the statement added.
"The Trustees support those who came forward to share their accounts. It is important that anyone who witnesses actions they believe are inconsistent with SCU's values or rules is able to share their concerns and have confidence that they will be taken seriously. This is a value that Father O'Brien also affirms, in this case or any other. At the same time, we fully respect Father O'Brien's right to a fair and impartial investigation, and we appreciate his strong belief that any complaints involving him should be held to the highest standard and carefully and independently investigated. As you know, transparency and accountability have been hallmarks of his tenure thus far, and Father O'Brien insists that they must apply especially now," the statement added.
O'Brien presided over the service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington D.C. in January for Mr Biden, who is Catholic, before the inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.
The priest has known the US president's family for about 15 years, according to the university and also presided over services for Mr Biden's inaugurations as vice president.