Ex-MDC Officer Gets 10-Year Sentence For Rape of Woman in Solitary with Covid-19

Jose Viera pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a female inmate during the pandemic lockdown

A former corrections officer with the Federal Bureau of Prisons who admitted to sexually assaulting a female inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles was sentenced this week to 10 years in prison, prosecutors say.

Jose Viera, 49, of Monterey Park, was sentenced Monday by United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II, who ordered Viera immediately remanded into custody. The former corrections officer pleaded guilty in May 2022 to one count of deprivation of rights under the color of law. The Metropolitan Detention Center, Los Angeles houses 692 male and female inmates.

Viera was working as a federal corrections officer on Dec. 20, 2020 when he entered the woman’s cell and raped her, according to prosecutors. The female inmate was in isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus; prosecutors said she believed that Viera was bringing her breakfast, as he had previously done.

Instead, “he laid down next to the victim in her bed, sandwiching her between his body and the wall,” prosecutors said, and brutally attacked her. Court records say Viera touched the woman’s breasts and pulled her shorts and underwear down to have anal sex with her as she begged him to stop.

“Victim J.P. feared physical harm from defendant as it was happening,” court records state. “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 woman reported the assault, and investigators recovered Viera’s DNA at the crime scene. Still, he lied to investigators and denied the attack until his guilty plea last spring. The maximum sentence available to the judge is 10 years in such a case.

 “By breaching his duty of trust, Viera harmed not only the victim but also the system of justice he was entrusted to serve,” United States Attorney Martin Estrada said Monday.

Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.