A former corrections officer with the Federal Bureau of Prisons was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting a female detainee who was quarantined due to COVID-19, officials with the United States Department of Justice announced.  

The assault occurred in 2020 when the former BOP officer, identified as 49-year-old Jose Viera, a resident of Monterey Park, worked at the Metropolitan Detention Center-Los Angeles. 

Viera was assigned to supervise incarcerated women who were in isolation as a result of COVID-19 exposure and infection.  

“During the morning of December 20, 2020, Viera entered the cell of the victim, who was in isolation from COVID-19, as he had done on previous occasions to bring her breakfast,” a U.S. DOJ news release stated. “Instead, Viera laid down next to the victim in her bed, sandwiching her between his body and the wall. Then, he sexually assaulted her. Viera committed this assault despite knowing that the victim did not consent and that his actions violated her constitutional rights.” 

During an investigation, conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General, Viera lied to federal agents about the sexual assault allegations.  

“A corrections officer’s job is to ensure the safety and security of those in custody,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Instead, the defendant’s actions did just the opposite, destroying this woman’s sense of peace and trust in law enforcement. We hope this sentence provides a measure of justice to the victim… .”  

Donald Always, Assistant Director in Charge of FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, stated that the bureau prioritizes cases that involve abuse by law enforcement.  

“Mr. Viera abdicated his duty and obligation to treat the prisoners in his care with dignity,” Always said.  

In May 2022, Viera pleaded guilty to a single count of deprivation of rights under the color of law.  

United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II sentenced the former corrections officer to 120 months in federal prison on Mar. 20, 2023, and ordered him taken into custody immediately.

A restitution hearing in the case has been scheduled for June 20.