Affidavit: Priest creates story of fake police investigation aft - KPTV - FOX 12

Affidavit: Priest creates story of fake police investigation after camera found in bathroom

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St. Francis Church in Sherwood St. Francis Church in Sherwood
St. Francis Church in Sherwood St. Francis Church in Sherwood

After a boy discovered a hidden camera in the bathroom of a Sherwood church, the priest told his parents an elaborate story over the course of a month about a police investigation that never actually took place, according to court documents.

Father Ysrael Bien, who is not charged with a crime at this time, was placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Portland on June 28.

In an affidavit for search warrants filed in Washington County, Sherwood police said a 15-year-old boy found a hidden camera in the men's restroom at St. Francis Church and brought it to Bien on April 26.

The camera was reported to be 30 inches off the floor, or waist-high, and disguised to look like an electrical outlet.

Two days after it was discovered, the teen's father contacted Bien asking if police wanted to talk to his son or get his finger prints, according to court documents.

An affidavit states Bien said he met with Sherwood police and they did not need to interview the boy because they had a suspect in mind who had used devices like this at other locations and he was "sure a conclusion would happen soon."

A police report was not made until 22 days later, court documents state.

In the meantime, exchanges of messages outlined in court documents illustrate the teen's parents requests for updates and information and the "elaborate story," as the affidavit calls it, told by Bien.

According to the affidavit, on May 14, in a private Facebook message, Bien told the parents that Sherwood police "did not have enough to go on with the device that (the boy) had found" and detectives didn't have enough evidence to place a potential suspect in the church.

He concluded the message by asking for prayers due to medical tests he was about to have done, saying, "Please pray that it is not serious. Thanks. See you around," according to court documents.

Days later, the teen's father replied asking for the police report. Bien replied that they should meet in person. At that meeting, court documents state Bien admitted lying about the police report because he was afraid of the consequences of losing the device.

Bien said he placed the camera in a drawer in the vesting room and when he returned after mass it was gone, court documents state. "Bien reported that he had no idea who might have taken the camera," according to the affidavit.

On May 20, Bien reported the device stolen to police. The archdiocese was also then informed of the case.

Detectives interviewed Bien on May 27, but court documents state he had talked with an attorney and was advised not to answer their questions. The detectives left and informed Bien they would be applying for a search warrant of the church and his home.

The investigating officer wrote in the affidavit that Bien is believed to have "either committed some or all of the offenses, or aided and abetted another individual in the commission of these offenses." Those offenses are listed as including attempted invasion of personal privacy, tampering with physical evidence, burglary and initiating a false report.

According to a statement by the Archdiocese of Portland, the decision to place him on leave was "based on his failure to report to the police the discovery of a hidden camera in a church restroom and subsequent misleading statements that have involved him in an ongoing criminal investigation."

He was not placed on leave until a month after church leaders learned of the situation due to an "abundance of caution not to interfere with an ongoing police investigation," according to a statement from the Archdiocese.

Sherwood police said Bien has not been named a suspect of any crimes at this time and there is no confirmed suspect in this case.

A search warrant was obtained for items including his computer, a hard drive, a USB flash drive, his iPhone and iPods.  

The case has been forwarded to the Washington County District Attorney's Office, according to police.

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