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Essex County Jail Inmate Accused of Raping and Killing Great-niece, 11, Beaten Up

A Massachusetts man held in connection with the death of an 11-year-old girl was beaten by jail inmates this week after being arraigned on a child rape charge.

Miguel Rivera, 58, of Lawrence, was taken into protective custody after an attack at the Essex County Jail on Tuesday by four inmates, officials told local media. In January this year, Rivera was arrested over alleged links to the death of Precious Wallaces, his great-niece.

"Rivera, an inmate at the Middleton House of Corrections, was involved in an altercation on Tuesday" at roughly 8:30 p.m, Sheriff Kevin Coppinger told Boston 25 News. "Officers moved quickly to break up the fight. Rivera sustained some bumps, bruises and a small cut."

"He was treated and released from our infirmary," the sheriff added. "Rivera has been placed in protective custody and will be held in a single cell and will have no interaction with other inmates. Four inmates were involved in the incident and our [investigation unit] will review what happened and will consult with the District Attorney's Office on possible charges."

Rivera was previously arraigned on charges of permitting substantial bodily injury to a child and misleading a police investigation. The judge ordered him to be held without bail. His probable cause hearing is scheduled for March 13. Rivera was first arrested January 18.

On Tuesday, Rivera appeared in Lawrence District Court on an additional charge of rape of a child with force. The rape was alleged to have occurred on December 15 last year—the same day Wallaces was found unresponsive inside a Jackson Street residence.

The Boston Herald, citing a criminal complaint, reported this week that a witness told police Rivera had given his great-niece a pill to help her sleep. Rivera initially denied the allegation but later admitted to flushing drugs down the toilet before calling 911.

Police said he waited approximately 13 minutes before calling the emergency services after the child was having a "hard time breathing," court documents said, Boston 25 News reported.

The criminal complaint further alleged that the girl had fentanyl in her system when she was rushed to Lawrence General Hospital. She passed away two days later at Tufts Medical Center.

The suspect pleaded not guilty in court this week.

The Essex District Attorney's Office confirmed on Tuesday that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner performed an autopsy on the child and collected evidence that resulted in the rape charge. But it has not yet ruled on a cause and manner of death. "The investigation is ongoing and therefore it is possible that more charges could issue," the DA said in a short statement.

Essex County Jail Inmate Accused of Raping and Killing Great-niece, 11, Beaten Up | U.S.