Police: Priest wanted in Sherwood hidden camera case may have le - KPTV - FOX 12

Police: Priest wanted in Sherwood hidden camera case may have left U.S.

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Ysrael Bien, photo released by Sherwood PD Ysrael Bien, photo released by Sherwood PD
St. Francis Church in Sherwood St. Francis Church in Sherwood
Photo of a wall socket hidden camera, similar to the one found in a Sherwood church. (Image: Sherwood PD) Photo of a wall socket hidden camera, similar to the one found in a Sherwood church. (Image: Sherwood PD)

A priest accused of placing a hidden camera in the bathroom of a Sherwood church is wanted by police, but investigators believe Ysrael Bien may have left the country.

An arrest warrant was issued for Bien on Tuesday on charges of personal invasion of privacy, tampering with physical evidence and initiating a false police report.

Officers with the Sherwood Police Department attempted to locate Bien at his last known residence, but according to another priest at the home, Bien may no longer be in the U.S.

Bien, of St. Francis Church in Sherwood, 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 the 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. Sherwood police released a photo of a similar device.

Two days after the camera 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.

Those documents state Bien told the family an elaborate story over the next month about a police investigation that never occurred, that detectives didn't have enough evidence to identify a suspect and how the camera was stolen from a drawer in the church vesting room.

Bien reported the camera stolen to police on May 20. Court documents state he told detectives he was advised by an attorney not to answer their questions, so he was informed they would be applying for a search warrant of the church and his home.

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

The archdiocese was notified of the case at that time, but did not place Bien on leave for more than a month due to an "abundance of caution not to interfere with an ongoing police investigation," according to a statement from the Archdiocese.

The Archdiocese of Portland issued Fox 12 the following statement Tuesday:

"Officials at the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon were saddened to learn that Washington County prosecutors have brought criminal charges against Father Ysrael Bien in relation to the April discovery of a hidden camera in a church restroom.

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 learned only after he left the country that Fr. Bien had traveled to The Philippines to visit family. He was asked to return, but to their knowledge he has not yet come back to Oregon. Fr. Bien has been on administrative leave from his ministerial duties at St. Francis because of his involvement in the investigation of the hidden camera incident."

Anyone who knows Bien's location is asked to call the Sherwood Police Department at 503-629-0111 or Detective Debbie Smith at 503-925-7117.

Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of privacy invasion at St. Francis Church is also asked to contact detectives at 503-925-7117.

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