Judge orders top-ranked bull rider to stand trial in violent rape at Holiday Inn

This story involves violent sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Joao Vieira, a 38-year-old rodeo sportsman considered by the PBR to be the third best rider in the world, will be held for trial on an accusation that he violently raped a woman at the Holiday Inn on J Street after a night out at Stoney’s Bar.

The court heard from Sac PD sexual assault detective Cambria Schneider, who served as the lead investigator of a woman’s violent rape in a hotel room after a night out at Stoney’s Rockin’ Rodeo on Del Paso Blvd, at a preliminary hearing late last month.

At the hearing, Schneider walked prosecutors through her investigation of the woman’s claims, which included multiple interviews, photographs of bites and bruising on the woman’s body, and a review of surveillance tape that showed the woman and Vieira together.

The woman, who The Update is not identifying, told the cops she was out at Stoney’s the night of January 30th with a friend when she met Vieira, who was with a group of six including another bull rider.

The pair shared a glass of whisky, and the woman left the bar with Vieira, who is married with a child, after it let out. Vieira brought her back to Room 911, poured her another drink, and the pair began kissing as country music blared from the room’s speakers. Viera and the woman moved to the bed, where he undressed her and bit her on the back.

The woman’s friend, who she went to the bar with, accompanied Vieira’s friend to Room 909, which was adjoined with 911.

“After that incident, when he was behind her and bit her back, they ended up moving over to a chair that was over in the corner by a desk,” Schneider said the victim told her. “She said, ‘No. I don’t think I can do this. No.”

Vieira allegedly grabbed the woman by the back of her neck and shoved her face into a chair, punching the woman as he violated her. He bit her finger as she tried to push him away.

During the rape, Vieira allegedly dug his nails into the woman’s hip, bit her nipple ring out of her breast, and penetrated her anus with his finger. Cops found a green bead near the bed during a search of the room.

The assault came to a brief halt after Vieira’s friend entered the room from an adjoining suite, looking for his date’s cell phone. Vieira stopped the assault, gave the friend the cell phone, and stood over his victim.

“No, please,” the woman allegedly said. “I’m hurting.”

In response to her complaints, all Vieira did was giggle. He disappeared into the bathroom, returned moments later with a towel, and forced her to perform oral sex on him. The assault only stopped when he ejaculated.

Despite the woman’s objections, Vieira’s lawyers say the sex was consensual.

“This is a man who, according to the People’s best case, has a sexual encounter that the People are claiming was not consensual. We claim vehemently that it was,” attorney Alan Eisner said at the hearing.

The rodeo star’s legal team pressed Schneider on the stand and got her to admit that she “couldn’t tell” without a doubt from the pictures that the bite marks on the woman’s back weren’t hickeys.

Co-Counsel Jennifer Mouzis argued that there were “a number of inconsistencies” in Schneider’s report. They said surveillance video that showed the woman with her arm around Vieira after leaving the bar, claimed the bite marks on her could’ve been hickeys, and tried to bring up past instances of the woman lying about sexual encounters that were struck down by Judge Kevin McCormick

“At a certain point, and I’d submit, the lack of corroborative physical evidence in this case demonstrates that the victim’s version of saying ‘no’ was less than candid,” Eisner said. “I realize she reported it, but your Honor heard the testimony. I’m not going to belabor it further.”

McCormick held Vieira to answer, dealing a serious but likely blow to his legal team’s efforts to have the case dropped, but set his bail at $300,000, which he promptly posted before being cleared to play again by PBR leadership.

“Upon recent developments and information provided to the league, Joao Ricardo Vieira has been reinstated and is eligible to participate in all PBR-sanctioned events,” CEO Sean Gleason said in a statement. “PBR will continue to monitor the situation.”

Vieira has been ordered to stay in the country and had his passport placed in the court’s sealed file. He will appear in Department 61 the morning of October 5th for further proceedings and identification of counsel.

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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