Fr. Ysrael Bien
Fr. Ysrael Bien
SHERWOOD — Police now say Father Ysrael Bien, on administrative leave from his role as pastor of St. Francis Parish in Sherwood, purchased a spy camera later found in a church bathroom.

Records uncovered by the Oregonian newspaper show the 34-year-old priest logged onto a spy gear website in March to buy the $295 camera, which was disguised as an electrical outlet. A Washington County judge on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for Father Bien on charges of invasion of privacy, tampering with evidence and initiating a false report — all misdemeanors.

“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,” says Archbishop Alexander Sample. “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.”

Meanwhile, Father Bien has left the country to visit family in The Philippines.

Archdiocese of Portland officials did not know Father Bien was departing until after the fact. Archbishop Alexander Sample has sent emails to Father Bien, asking him to return. Father Bien answered an initial email saying that it seems best for him now to be with family. Father Bien so far has not responded to a second request from the archbishop.

Before the warrant issued Tuesday, Sherwood Police never listed Father Bien as an official suspect and did not seize his passport.

David Renshaw, communications director for the archdiocese, says that after the camera was found, the archdiocese followed all child protection protocol. The archdiocese also operated with the guidance of Sherwood Police regarding progress in the case and Father Bien’s status.

“When we discovered something we let people know,” Renshaw said.

A teen boy discovered the camera last spring and brought it to the priest. The camera disappeared and Father Bien delayed going to the police, though he had promised the boy and his family he would. The priest eventually did tell the police that the camera had been stolen.