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Home / behind bars

Former guard at downtown federal lockup agrees to plead guilty to inmate rape

A former guard at the federal lockup in downtown Los Angeles has agreed to plead guilty to raping an inmate who was being held in an isolation cell while recovering from COVID-19, according to court papers obtained Thursday.

Jose Viera, whose age and hometown were not immediately available, will enter his plea to a single federal count of deprivation of rights under color of law, resulting in bodily injury, on a date to be determined.

The felony carries a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars, prosecutors said.

According to his plea agreement, 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 documents states that the victim thought Viera entered her cell to bring her breakfast, as he often did.

“Instead, defendant laid down next to her in her bed, sandwiching her between his body and the wall,” according to the factual basis for the plea, filed Monday 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, the document states.

“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,” the document states.

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