Bail set at $75K for officer charged with child rape 

AMANDA SABGA/Staff file photo Lawrence police officer Carlos Vieira has had bail set at $75,000 on child rape charges.

LAWRENCE — After spending a week behind bars, held without bail, a Lawrence police officer charged with child rape had bail set in his criminal case at $75,000 Tuesday. 

Carlos Vieira, 49, is charged with two counts of aggravated rape of a child and an indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14.

His defense attorney immediately requested a bail review hearing in Salem Superior Court to try to have the bail amount lowered. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. 

The alleged victim is a 13-year-old boy whom police say Vieira encountered on the social media application GRINDR last summer. He's accused of meeting the boy in Mount Vernon Park and raping him in his SUV, according to court papers.

On Tuesday, prosecutor Kim Faitella asked Judge Lynn Rooney to set bail in the case at $100,000 while Gil Nason, Vieira's defense attorney, asked for the 19-year Lawrence police officer to be released on personal recognizance.

Rooney subsequently set bail at $75,000 and further ordered him to surrender all firearms to police, to stay away and have no contact with the alleged victim and his family, to have no contact with anyone under age 18, to surrender his passport and wear a GPS monitoring bracelet around the clock.

Investigators said they seized 20 firearms from Vieira including an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle he had in the backseat of his SUV when he was arrested.

However, authorities have not been able to locate two firearms registered to Vieira, a Smith and Wesson .40-caliber and a .32-caliber Kel-Tec.

In court Tuesday, Nason said Vieira sold the Smith and Wesson to another police officer. But he was unsure of what happened to the Kel-Tec.

As a condition of bail, Rooney also said she wanted to know the whereabouts of the .32-caliber.

She said it was "ludicrous" for a gun owner not to know the whereabouts of a weapon registered to him or her. 

"They are guns. You need to know where they are ...It's registered to him. He was responsible. End of story," Rooney said. 

After the bail hearing, Nason described the $75,000 bail set by Rooney as "excessive" and said the missing firearm was likely something Vieira sold over the past 30 years while he was a licensed gun owner. 

"A gun is a just a piece of property ... This case is not about firearms. It's about mistaken identity in the rape of a child," Nason said.

Nason also said Tuesday neither he nor his client have been provided the name of the alleged victim by the prosecution. 

He said Vieira was a lifelong resident of Lawrence who lives in a house owned by his mother. He makes payments on a car and an RV and "he has no intention of going anywhere," Nason said.

Nason added Vieira has no mental health or drug issues, has received awards in the police department and "his reputation in the community has been stellar." 

"My client from the very beginning has maintained his innocence," said Nason of Vieira, who was arrested and charged last Monday by state police. 

But, Faitella, during the bail hearing, said prosecutors have a "strong case" against the police officer, including an identification the victim made of Vieira while he was directing traffic at Mount Vernon and Beacon streets on Sept. 13, the day of the of Merrimack Valley gas explosions. 

The boy's mother reported the alleged sexual encounters with Vieira last summer and another man, Daniel Ramirez, 36, this winter, to the District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett's office on Jan. 28. 

Faitella said the boy met Vieira through GRINDR, "an application that connects people in the same geographical area."

If convicted of aggravated rape of a child, Vieira faces a minimum of 10 years in state prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison, she said. 

"I suggest he has access to cash and every reason to flee," Faitella said. 

Vieira was arraigned on the charges last Tuesday, Feb. 26, in Lawrence District Court. 

Two days later, Ramirez, of 5 Shawsheen Road, Lawrence was arraigned on four counts of aggravated rape of a child and indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14.

While Vieira was initially held without bail, Judge Mark Sullivan set bail at $50,000 for Ramirez, according to court records.

Communication between Ramirez and the boy began on Jan. 13, according to court records. At 2:33 a.m. on Jan 14, Ramirez picked up the boy, drove him back to his residence where they engaged in sex acts, according to court papers. 

Judge Rooney initially held Vieira without bail and set a hearing to determine whether Vieira was a danger to himself or the community at-large several days later, as required by law. 

But the following day, she asked Faitella and Nason to return to Lawrence District Court to discuss the law which allows judges to hold suspects without bail pending dangerousness hearings.

Rooney pointed to a recent ruling regarding that law as it applies to those charged with aggravated child rape. The judge subsequently reversed her decision regarding Vieira being held without bail.

“I do not believe it applies in this case,” she said.

Rooney then stayed, or suspended, her decision so prosecutors could file an appeal to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.

A single justice of the SJC then reversed her decision on Rooney's stay – allowing for the bail hearing Tuesday. 

A probable cause hearing for Vieira was set for April 12. 

Ramirez is scheduled to return to court on March 26.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.