Oregon priest runs off to Philippines during criminal investigation into hidden camera found in church bathroom

By Nicole Hensley
New York Daily News
August 28, 2015

Fr. Ysrael Bien of St. Francis Catholic Church in Sherwood, Oregon, has been placed on administrative leave after a parishioner discovered a camera disguised as a power outlet in the men's bathroom.

A priest caught with a hidden camera in a Sherwood, Ore., church fled to the Philippines to evade an arrest warrant signed last week, local reports said.

Rev. Ysrael Bien left the country in defiance of the Archdiocese of Portland’s orders to stay put while on administrative leave from the St. Francis Catholic Church.

“I didn’t expect him to disobey,” Archbishop Alexander Sample told the Oregonian.

A teenage boy had found a hidden camera disguised as an electrical outlet in a church bathroom and handed it over to Bien.

The ensuing drama has left parishioners not expecting the 34-year-old priest to return or ever be found.

“I don't ever expect to see him again, but I think in his heart of hearts he knows how many people he's hurt," Peter Hainley told the Oregonian.

Bien faces charges of invasion of privacy, tampering with evidence and initiating a false police report stemming from the April 26 case.

The 15-year-old boy came to Bien with his April 26 discovery of the hidden camera almost a month after Bien allegedly bought it. The priest waited a month to do anything about it, authorities alleged.

He may have lied about calling police to the boy’s parents.

His call to authorities on May 20 only said a camera was missing from the church, according to court documents.

Bien whereabouts in the Philippines are unclear at this time. He apparently left for his native country in late June where members of his family live.

"He may be gone, but the charges aren't, nor will they go away," Sherwood Police Department Capt. Ty Hanlon told the Oregonian.

An email exchange and voicemails from Sample to Bien resulted in no reply.

Sample now regrets putting too much trust in Bien whom he described as naive and innocent.

“I gave him the benefit of the doubt,” Sample added.

Even if found authorities aren’t sure Bien can be extradited.

It’s not known how long the camera had been in the bathroom or if it ever recorded images. The camera lacked a memory card at the time of its discovery.



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