After bail was set for a Massachusetts police officer charged with child rape, Gov. Charlie Baker is pushing for a change to bail laws in the state.
Lawrence Police officer Carlos Vieira, 49, had been held without bail, pending a dangerousness hearing, for more than a week after being arrested and charged with raping a 13-year-old boy. But Tuesday, the judge reversed course and set bail at $75,000, pointing to a Supreme Court ruling and a Massachusetts law limiting what criminal charges can trigger a dangerousness hearing.
The charges Vieira is facing are not on that list. But Baker is looking to change that.
"I think the way the system is set up right now, it's virtually impossible to have a hearing, and the courts have very few tools available to them to hold dangerous people," he said.
Baker has reintroduced legislation he filed last summer that would expand the list of eligible offenses and allow judges to consider a suspect's criminal history.
"In Massachusetts, you really can only do dangerousness hearings involving domestic violence cases," Baker said. "I think this is a loophole, it's a problem, and I think this case in Lawrence is a perfect example of why it needs to be fixed."
Vieira, who is a 19-year veteran of the Lawrence Police Department, was arrested on Feb. 25 following an investigation by the Essex DA's Office. He pleaded not guilty late last month to two counts of aggravated rape of a child and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. Prosecutors said Vieira met the child during the summer of 2018 via the GRINDR dating app.
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Vieira allegedly agreed to meet with the boy at Mount Vernon Park, where a sexual encounter allegedly took place in a dark SUV. The mother of the child reported the incident to authorities when she found out about it.
Vieira's attorney calls it all a case of mistaken identity.
The police department has placed Vieira on administrative leave.