A Massachusetts police officer has been arrested and charged with the aggravated rape of a child, the Essex District Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
Longtime Lawrence police officer Carlos Vieira, 49, was arrested in Haverhill without incident. He is charged with two counts of aggravated rape of a child and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.
"This is an ongoing investigation, but the allegations against Officer Vieira are extremely troubling, and we take them very seriously,” Lawrence Police Chief Roy Vasque said in a statement.
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera echoed the chief's sentiment, saying in a statement that he is "angry, sick, dismayed, and saddened by the accusations and charges against" Vieira.
"We have worked very hard to improve and raise the professionalism of the Lawrence Police Department. We fired and expelled many officers who could not work between the code of conduct and the high level of professionalism in which my office, the police chief and the men and women and the leadership of the police unions worked," Mayor Rivera said.
Vieira's arrest follows an investigation by the Essex DA’s Office that began in January.
Authorities say the victim’s mother contacted them to report that her son, who was 13 at the time, had allegedly met Vieira using a social media app and engaged in sexual activity with him in the summer of 2018.
There was disbelief throughout Lawrence with the news of Vieira’s arrest.
“I'm just disgusted about it, I just have no comment after that,” a neighbor said.
Many of Vieira’s neighbors say they are surprised to hear about his arrest.
“From what I’ve seen, he looks like a good guy,” another man said. “For a guy, for him to be accused of such allegations, I don't think its real.”
Chief Vasque says Officer Vieira, who has been a member of the Lawrence Police Department since November of 1999, was placed on administrative leave immediately after the department was notified of his arrest by Massachusetts State Police.
Mayor Rivera says if the allegations are determined to be true, city officials will act quickly to remove him from his job.
"This is unforgivable," Rivera said.
Vieira is expected to be arraigned Tuesday in Lawrence District Court. It's unclear if he has an attorney.