A former guard at the federal lockup in downtown Los Angeles pleaded guilty Tuesday to raping an inmate who was being held in an isolation cell while recovering from COVID-19.
Jose Viera, 49, of the San Gabriel Valley, pleaded guilty to a single federal count of deprivation of rights under color of law, resulting in bodily injury, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Sentencing was scheduled for March 13, 2023. Viera faces up to 10 years behind bars, prosecutors said.
Viera was a corrections officer assigned to the Metropolitan Detention Center-Los Angeles on Dec. 20, 2020, when he entered an isolation cell where the female inmate identified by the initials J.P. was being housed.
The inmate thought Viera entered her cell to bring her breakfast, as he often did, according to Viera’s plea agreement.
“Instead, defendant laid down next to her in her bed, sandwiching her between his body and the wall,” according to the document, filed last week in Los Angeles federal court. “In doing so, defendant positioned himself with the front of his body pressing against victim J.P.’s back.”
After being told by J.P. to stop, Viera proceeded to rape the woman, the plea agreement says.
The inmate “feared physical harm from defendant as it was happening, and in fact, defendant’s conduct resulted in bodily injury” to the victim in the form of soreness and pain, according to the document.
“In performing this act, defendant did so willfully, that is, the defendant knew his conduct was against the law but engaged in such conduct anyway.”
At his initial court appearance last week, Viera was granted release on a $25,000 bond with the conditions that he have no contact with J.P. and that he participate in mental health counseling and/or treatment.