SHERWOOD, Ore. – An arrest warrant has been issued for Father Ysrael Bien, a Sherwood priest who waited nearly a month to report a hidden camera found in a church bathroom to the police.
A break in the case came last week when a customer query led the owners of Texas company SpyGuy Security to Google the original story about the scandal. They determined that someone named Ysrael Bien had purchased a spy camera disguised as an electrical plug, and they called Sherwood police.
Father Bien of the St. Francis Church in Sherwood was placed on administrative leave June 24, according to a spokesman for the church.
A warrant for his arrest was issued August 18 on charges of personal invasion of privacy, tampering with physical evidence and initiating a false report.
Officials at the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon issued a statement late Tuesday that said they were "saddened" that prosecutors brought criminal charges against Bien.
Archbishop Alexander Sample stated: "It is gravely troubling to find out that one of our priests has been charged with criminal misconduct, but we appreciate the diligence of the Sherwood Police Department in pursuing its investigation of the incident. We will continue to cooperate with authorities in the resolution of this matter. Our prayers are with parishioners of Saint Francis Church, Sherwood, and all who have been affected."
Archdiocesan officials said Bien had been visiting family in the Philippines and they have asked him to return to Oregon.
In a letter earlier distributed to the church community, the Archdiocese explained that a hidden camera found in the men's bathroom was brought to Bien on April 26. But Bien waited until May 20 to report the incident to Sherwood police.
The camera was put next to a toilet and found by a boy, according to Sherwood police.
"It is deeply troubling that well-established Church protocols for the protections of parishioners were not followed," said Archbishop Alexander Sample. "Finding a hidden camera in a church restroom should have been the cause for prompt and decisive action."
The church hired independent investigators to see if other hidden cameras were in any church facilities but no others were found.
Bien has been placed on administrative leave from his ministerial duties at St. Francis because of his involvement in the investigation.
Police said they have not yet specifically identified the person who placed the camera in the bathroom.
Anyone with information on Bien's whereabouts was asked to contact Sherwood police at 503-629-0111 or Detective Debbie Smith at 503-925-7117.
Police also want to speak with anyone who believes they may have been a victim to the invasion of their personal privacy at the St. Francis Church.
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