A Lawrence police officer was held without bail Tuesday on charges of raping a 13-year-old boy he met online over the summer, authorities said.
Officer Carlos Vieira, 49, was arraigned in Lawrence District Court on two counts each of aggravated rape of a child and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, according to Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office.
A not-guilty plea was entered on behalf of Vieira, who was ordered held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing slated for Friday, officials said.
Vieira’s lawyer, Gil Nason, said in a phone interview that his client “completely and wholeheartedly” denies the charges and believes “that this is a case of mistaken identity.”
The police report was impounded Tuesday by Judge Lynn Rooney, but Assistant District Attorney Kim Faitella disclosed a few details of the Commonwealth’s case in court, according to Blodgett’s office.
Faitella, prosecutors said, “told the court that the Essex district attorney’s office was contacted by the victim’s mother on January 29 reporting that she had just learned that her son, who was 13 at the time, had sexual contact with a Lawrence police officer.”
The investigation “revealed that the boy and the defendant allegedly were in contact through the social media app GRINDR,” Blodgett’s office said. “They met at Mt. Vernon Park and engaged in sexual acts on one occasion last summer. When the boy and his family were evacuated following the [Merrimack Valley] gas explosions on September 13th, he recognized the police officer directing traffic at the intersection on Mt. Vernon and Beacon Streets as the man he met at the park.”
Vieira, a Lawrence police officer since 1999, was placed on administrative leave as soon as department officials were notified of his arrest, Police Chief Roy Vasque said.