Police have issued an arrest warrant against a Filipino priest for placing a hidden camera in St Francis Church bathroom in Sherwood, Oregon.
Father Ysrael Bien was not initially charged for the crime due to insufficient evidence, but an ongoing investigation has showed that the device was purchased by Bien.
The Archdioceses of Portland originally placed him under administrative leave on June 28.
Court documents show that a hidden camera device was discovered by a young boy in the church. The device was mounted waist high and made to look like an electric outlet.
An investigation shows that someone sent a query to Spyguy Security of Dallas, Texas where the item was originally purchased – they asked if anyone from Sherwood, Oregon had bought the device from them.
A match was found via a google search and an arrest warrant was issued against Bien on Tuesday – since then the priest has fled back to the Philippines.
On August 18, charges were filed against Bien for invasion of privacy, tampering with physical evidence and initiating a false police report.
Local police attempted to locate Bien at his last known address but found another priest living at the address – authorities now know that Bien fled to the Philippines to flee the arrest warrant against him.
Officials of the church say that Bien was in the Philippines visiting his family. But after the archdiocese told him to return to the US he has not replied and his whereabouts are unknown.
Parishioners have criticised the church for not withholding Bien’s passport when he was named a ‘person of interest’ in the crime.
A search warrant was filed for the priest’s belongings, including his computer, hard drive, a USB flash drive and his iPhone and iPods.