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Catholic Priest Under Investigation for Hidden Camera Found in Church Restroom

Catholic Priest Under Investigation for Hidden Camera Found in Church Restroom

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A Catholic priest in Oregon has been placed on leave following allegations that he planted a hidden camera in his church's men's room.

Father Ysrael Bien of Sherwood, Oregon is under investigation by police after a 15-year-old boy found a hidden camera in the church men's room, according to The Oregonian.

Church authorities placed Bien on leave following allegations the priest lied to parishioners and police about the spy camera.

The boy found the camera in April at St. Francis Catholic Church and turned it over to Bien. The device was hidden inside an electrical outlet in a toilet stall. The boy thought it was unusual place for an outlet to be installed waist high and upon discovering it was actually a camera, took it to the priest.

Police believe that Bien either installed the device himself or was helping whoever is actually responsible. Search warrants were issued for the church, Bien's car, home, and electronic devices.

Bien allegedly lied to church officials, police, and the child's parents about his actions following the camera's discovery. The boy's parents claim the priest originally told them he had contacted police and concocted an elaborate story about a supposedly unfruitful police investigation.

"Sherwood police did not have enough to go with from the device," Bien told the parents over Facebook. "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 Oregonian reports Bien maintained his story, blaming an imaginary suspect, claiming "The device - same style and model - is 'affiliated' with this person. Unfortunately, these are 'circumstantial'. Because of insufficient and inconclusive evidence, they are not able to place the person they have in mind in our church bathroom."

The priest claimed that police still hoped to catch the alleged "perpetrator" thanks to a separate investigation in an attempt to mollify the boy's parents. In actuality, Bien never let police know about the camera nor had he told church authorities.

After learning Bien had not informed church leaders about the camera's discovery, and suspicious of the priest's elaborate and nonsensical story, the boy's father contacted the church deacon and asked for a copy of the police report on the incident. Together, they confronted Bien and he confessed he hadn't gone to the police as he had previously stated.

Instead, Bien concocted a new story, claiming the camera was stolen from the drawer where he placed it and that he didn't contact authorities because he was afraid of "the consequences of losing the device," according to court records. He also said that there was no memory card in the device. Police believe that Bien either removed the card or the device was set to record photos wirelessly onto a computer.

Father Bien has been an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage since ordination.

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