A Catholic priest is under investigation after a parishioner found a camera hidden in the men’s restroom at his church. The camera disappeared after being reported to the priest – and it is still missing.
The device was found in April by a 15-year-old boy who noticed an electrical outlet in an odd place - at waist height next to the toilet in a bathroom near the church altar. He pulled out what appeared to be a camera and brought it to Father Ysrael Bien, who assured the boy and his parents that police would be called immediately, the Oregonian reports.
Instead of calling police, Bien later told investigators he put the camera in a drawer at St. Francis in Sherwood, Oregon. Later that day, when he went to retrieve it, the camera was missing. He told investigators that the camera had no memory card in it when the boy brought it to him.
Police weren't called to investigate until nearly a month later, the Oregonian reports. They believe Bien either placed the camera there or helped the person who did it, but as of Tuesday he had not yet been named a suspect.
Instead of calling police as he promised, Bien continued to string the family along, telling them police had been called and were investigating. After two weeks of silence, the parents asked for an update. Reporting from a court affidavit, the Oregonian quotes a Facebook message sent to them by the priest, in which he seems to try and shake the parents off:
Sherwood police did not have enough to go with from the device. Two sets of fingerprints were found: mine and, by process of elimination, (your son's). ... They were hoping to find a third set of fingerprints to lead them to the perpetrator. But there was none. Not surprising because they said it is consistent with the modus operandi of the person they have in mind. The device – same style and model – is 'affiliated' with this person. Unfortunately, these are 'circumstantial (sic). Because of insufficient and inconclusive evidence, they are not able to place the person they have in mind in our church bathroom. ...
Fortunately, however, other police departments are pursuing the same person for another on-going case investigation (I am not sure if it is a crime of a similar nature or different and bigger). Happily, this is where they are confident they are going to get him. So, officially Sherwood police investigation of our incident is over. But other police departments (Tigard or Beaverton, I'm not exactly sure) are currently pursuing the person they think is also our perpetrator ...
At this point, the parents became suspicious. The teen's father emailed the priest and church deacon asking for the police report. If Bien didn't have it, he'd ask the police department for a copy. This is when Bien's story fell apart.
He admitted he had not called police because he was afraid of the consequences once he realized the camera had gone missing, according to the Oregonian.
Search warrants were served at the church, on Bien's home, car and computers, the paper reports. He has been placed on leave by the Archdiocese of Portland.