Archdiocese Suspends Priest Who Waited Weeks To Tell Police About Hidden Camera

Priest Waited Weeks To Tell Police About Spy Cam Discovery: Court Docs

An Oregon priest waited more than three weeks to tell police about a hidden camera found in a church bathroom, and in the meantime falsely told parishioners there was an ongoing police investigation into the matter, the Oregonian reported Tuesday, citing recent court records.

The Archdiocese of Portland placed Father Ysrael Bien, 34, on leave last week, citing his failure to follow church protocol and immediately report the camera. Bien was not named as a suspect in the ongoing investigation, though officials reportedly said in a search warrant affidavit they believe he may have "aided or abetted" whoever planted the camera.

A teenage boy in late April found the camera, disguised as a wall outlet, inside a single-toilet men's bathroom at St. Francis Catholic Church in Sherwood. According to court records, the boy thought the waist-height placement of an outlet was strange, and pulled it from to wall to show Bein.

Despite telling the boy and his father that he would report the matter to police, Bien said nothing to officials and put the camera in a drawer in the vesting room.

The Oregonian described a series of Facebook messages and emails from Bien to the boy's parents containing elaborate details of the supposed police investigation. But the boy's parents grew increasingly suspicious in the absence of a police report, and in light of Bien's claims that police didn't need to interview their son.

It wasn't until May 20 that Bien contacted Sherwood Police about the camera -- to report it stolen.

Though police have yet to find the camera, they determined it had no memory card when it was initially brought to Bien.

“At the time of discovery it was not recording people," Sherwood police spokesman Ty Hanlon said.

"The device does not need power to operate and can be placed in any location by adhering it to a wall with tape," Sherwood police said in a statement.

Bien, who was born in the Philippines, was ordained into the Portland Archdiocese in 2010.

"It is deeply troubling that well-established Church protocols for the protections of parishioners were not followed," Archbishop Alexander Sample said in a statement last week. "Finding a hidden camera in a church restroom should have been the cause for prompt and decisive action."

Police are still investigating and do not have a suspect.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Go To Homepage

Popular in the Community