Follow up on Sherwood Priest Ysrael Bien and the Bathroom Camera

As my dearly departed father would say, the plot thickens

From the Oregonian:

Priest pretended to notify police after teen found camera in church bathroom, records say

In my earlier post, I said that “the failure of Fr. Bien to report the camera at all until after it was subsequently “lost” speaks volumes about the continuing systemic failure of the Archdiocese to educate parishioners on the reporting of suspected abuse and misconduct.”

Well, let me hand it to the parishioners, they didn’t just let it go, and they were active in making sure the misconduct had been reported.  Fr. Bein simply lied to them that it had been.

Quelle suprise.

Here’s the load of horse pucky the priest gave the teen’s mother when she followed up to find out what was being done about the camera:

[Fr.Bien] told her that police had visited the parish and they didn’t need the boy’s statement or fingerprints because the priest had filled them in on everything, records say. Police had a suspect in mind who had used similar devices in other places, he continued. They were gathering more evidence to make an arrest, he said.

As the kids used to say, ya, right.

Even better, Fr. Bien started penning what appears to be his first in a series of fictional novels based around police investigation techniques:

“Sherwood police did not have enough to go with from the device,” the priest wrote. “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 …”

The priest then asked the couple to pray for him because he was having some medical tests done.

On the last part, the medical tests, of course he would add that, to distract from the issue at hand.

In a court of law, if prosecuted, Fr. Bien deserves a presumption of innocence.  No such presumption applies in our regular lives.  I’m going out on a limb here and saying Fr. Bien was likely intimately and personally involved with placing this camera.  If that excludes me from the jury pool in his potential upcoming criminal trial, well, too bad.

Serious kudos to the family here for not letting this go, and for following up with police themselves.  That’s the way that all good Catholics should behave.  I’m proud of them, even as I’m ashamed of one of the priests of my faith.  Always listen to that little voice.

And yes, the device could have been bluetooth enabled.  Now of course, you all should go read the entire article, but let me leave you with this gem: “A judge signed search warrants for the church, Bien’s home, his car, phones and computers.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, Fr. Bien.

Archdiocese of Portland still has problems with its priests

At best, this story shows a disturbing lack of training for Fr. Ysrael Bien.  At worst, it suggests that he may have been involved in sexual misconduct.

Sherwood priest on leave as police investigate hidden camera

A fake outlet that concealed a camera was placed next to the toilet in the men’s room at St. Francis Church in Sherwood.  Per the Oregonian:

A church member initially found a camera – disguised as a power outlet – in a St. Francis bathroom on April 26 and turned it over to Bien.

But Bien didn’t contact police until May 20, when he reported it as stolen.

* * * * * outletcamerajpg-ebf87aaf77d52f2c[1]

The secret camera was placed next to a toilet and would have captured anyone who used the restroom[.]

What the hell is going on here?  Thankfully the Archdiocese has “suspended” Fr. Bien, but the failure of Fr. Bien to report the camera at all until after it was subsequently “lost” speaks volumes about the continuing systemic failure of the Archdiocese to educate parishioners on the reporting of suspected abuse and misconduct.  No mention of whether the camera had bluetooth capability.  Someone could have been—and almost certainly was—taping kids going to the bathroom in the church.  And this idiot doesn’t even report it to anyone for almost a month, and then only does to report it stolen!!!  Something is rotten in the parish of St. Francis.

Trusting individual priests to police themselves or their parishes was shown to be a spectacular failure for the decades leading up to the priest abuse scandal of the 2000s and the Archdiocese’s own bankruptcy in 2004-05.   Yet I’ve seen no communication from the Archbishop to the parishioners to report such misconduct to the Archbishop directly.  That needs to change.  Now.

Archdiocese of St. Paul Charged Criminally

An amazing story out of St. Paul, Minnesota: the Archdiocese of St. Paul is being criminally prosecuted for failing to protect boys from Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer in 2010.  Fr. Wehmeyer had a trailer on the church grounds he used to ply the kids with drugs and alcohol, and abuse them.  He was known to have been unstable and inappropriate throughout his 15+ years of ministry in the Archdiocese of St. Paul.

The lawsuit is an indictment of the Archdiocese itself , not just individual prelates, and so is also an indictment of the Church’s actions over the last 60 plus years:

The archdiocese’s failure to protect these children is part of an institutional pattern of allowing unsuitable priests to continue working in the church, and have access to children, the complaint says. In an extremely rare move, the complaint does not accuse a specific church leader, but rather the archdiocese corporation as a whole.

The pattern of ignoring warning signs about Wehmeyer was decades-long and blatant:

[T]he archdiocese officials were aware of Wehmeyer’s problematic behavior yet ordained him and allowed him to assume greater duties in church ministry.

When Wehmeyer was admitted to the seminary in 1997, “seminary officials were aware Wehmeyer had a history of abusing alcohol and marijuana, experimented with other drugs, was promiscuous with men and women, was on medication for low-level depression and was in therapy,” the 44-page complaint says.

In 2004, Wehmeyer approached two younger-looking men at a Barnes and Noble in Roseville, seeking to have sex. He was evaluated at a treatment center for troubled priests, and was later put on an archdiocese monitoring program.

But the archdiocese failed to enforce its own restrictions for Wehmeyer, Choi said. He cited a 2010 incident when a priest reported to Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché that on a camping trip Wehmeyer had slept in the same bed with one of the victims.

The criminal charges were driven by the recent nature of the abuse.  Numerous cases have been filed since the passage of the Minnesota Child Victim Act in 2012.  The Child Victims Act allows sexual assault civil lawsuits to be filed even if they’re beyond the statute of limitations for three years after its passage. “David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, credited the legislation for Friday’s civil lawsuit.

Unfortunately, ignoring warnings and the cover-up of misconduct was a hallmark of the mentality prevalent in the Church as a whole, including the Archdiocese of Portland. But once a criminal statute of limitations has run, a person or organization cannot be charged criminally under the Ex Post Facto clause of the Constitution.

The Archdiocese of Portland’s most recent known abuse scandal happened in Woodburn, Oregon in 2012, where Fr. Angel Perez photographed and molested a boy who had been spending the night in the rectory in violation of Archdiocese policies.  Perhaps the Clackamas County DA can look into the Archdiocese of Portland’s conduct there and see if it warrants charges.