Ex-Chaplain Pleads Guilty to Sex with Inmates

By Bryon Okada and Sarah Bahari
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
November 15, 2007

FORT WORTH -- A former chaplain pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to two counts of sexual abuse of an adult ward in custody at Federal Medical Center Carswell.

Vincent Inametti, a Catholic missionary from Nigeria who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, was the chaplain at FMC Carswell from Aug. 13, 2000, to Sept. 26, 2007. Carswell is the Bureau of Prisons' main medical and mental health facility for female offenders.

Court documents indicate that while at Carswell, Inametti twice did "engage and attempt to engage in a sexual act with another person." The two victims were female inmates. One incident happened in February 2006. The other was in June or July 2006.

Tahira Merritt, an attorney for one of the women, said her client is pleased with the guilty plea but is worried that Inametti will be given probation instead of prison time.

Inametti is scheduled to be sentenced March 17 by U.S. District Judge Terry Means. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Michael Heiskell, Inametti's attorney, said the matter involved consensual sex between his client and the two inmates.

"Unfortunately, this happened at the wrong place at the wrong time," Heiskell said. "We're hopeful his entire life will be the basis of a fair sentence and not this one lapse in judgment."

The Rev. Michael Olson, vicar general with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, said Inametti was not part of the diocese. He is instead a member of a religious order called the Missionary Society of St. Paul, based in Nigeria. Before 2000, he served in parishes in Eastland County as well as at Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church in Fort Worth.

Diocese officials said they plan to visit Inametti's past parishes to ensure that no other abuses occurred.

In 2000, Inametti asked to do prison ministry. He was given limited faculties to hear confessions and celebrate Mass in the prison.

In March, the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Inspector General received a complaint that Inametti was sexually involved with an inmate. Federal agents learned that Inametti was also involved with another inmate. Both inmates were serving time for drug distribution conspiracy.

One victim had become familiar with Inametti in August 2004 when she attended Catholic services, joined the choir and participated in Bible study classes. The other victim met Inametti in November 2004 when she was assigned as a clerk for the religious services department at FMC Carswell.

BRYON OKADA, 817-390-7752


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