It’s not uncommon to hear of sexual abuse in prison. What is uncommon is to find that the abuse was at the hand of a Catholic priest – a prison chaplain no less!
Vincent Inametti, a Roman Catholic priest, who worked as a chaplain at Federal Medical Center (FMC) Carswell in Fort Worth, was sentenced to 48 months in prison. Inametti, 48, who pled guilty in November to two counts of sexual abuse of a ward, was also ordered to pay a $3000 fine.
Inametti is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was ordained in his native country, Nigeria. He was immediately remanded into custody to begin serving his sentence.
The Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General, (DOJ-OIG) received a complaint in March 2007 that Inametti was sexually involved with a particular inmate, “D.D.” Subsequent investigation by DOJ-OIG agents revealed that Inametti was also sexually involved with another inmate, “E.R.” Both inmates were serving federal prison sentences for drug distribution conspiracy convictions.
“D.D.” became acquainted with Inametti in August 2004 when she began attending Catholic services, joining the choir and participating in Bible study classes at FMC Carswell. “E.R.” became acquainted with Inametti a few months later, in November 2004, as a result of her assignment as a clerk for the Religious Services Department at FMC Carswell.
Inametti admitted that in February 2006, he directed “D.D.” to the chapel library, where he engaged in a sexual act with her. He further admitted that in June or July 2006, he summoned “E.R.” to a classroom in the chapel where he engaged in a sexual act with her.
According to an article in the Dallas Morning News,
His Fort Worth attorney, Michael Heiskell, said the sexual liaisons between Mr. Inametti and the two women were consensual, and he expressed hope for mercy from the court.
“Unfortunately, it was the wrong place and the wrong time,” Mr. Heiskell said. “We hope the court will judge him on the entire good work in his life as opposed to a lapse in judgment.”
But Tahira Khan Merritt, a Dallas attorney who represented one of the plaintiffs in the case, disputed the contention that the relationships were consensual. Mr. Inametti once threatened to kill her client if she told anyone about the abuse, she said, and the other plaintiff has filed a complaint with the federal prison system over the abuse.
“He was in a supervisory role over them,” Ms. Merritt said. “That implies they cannot consent to sexual acts when they’re wards of the state.”
Mr. Inametti, who was ordained in 1986 in his native Nigeria, served as a parish priest at Our Mother of Mercy Church in Fort Worth from 1991 to 1996, said Pat Svacina, a spokesman for the Diocese of Fort Worth.
After a sabbatical, Mr. Inametti returned to the diocese in 1999 and served in mission churches in the Ranger, Texas, area for about a year before he went to work for the prison system.
Every choice has a consequence. In this case Inametti is facing the consequences of his actions. The sad part is, like most crimes, his choices and the consequences that follow overshadow the good that he might have done as a priest up to that time.
Perhaps his time in prison will give him the chance to do some good in ways that he could not have done as an outsider – even as a chaplain.
Business Ethics Speaker – Chuck Gallagher – signing off…