First Arrest at a Health Care Facility After Woman in a Vegetative State Gives Birth
A 36-year-old man from Phoenix was arrested in connection with the alleged sexual assault of a woman in a long-term incapacitated state.
Nathan Sutherland was charged with one count of sexual assault, and one count of vulnerable adult abuse, the Chief of Police in Phoenix confirmed.
A 29-year-old woman – who had been at the Hacienda HealthCare facility since 1992 – gave birth in December 2018.
#HaciendaHealthcare: Police say Nathan Sutherland invoked his 5th amendment rights and did not give an interview regarding the case. He has been charged with the sexual assault of a woman he provided care to at the nursing facility. She gave birth to a baby last month #abc15— Megan Thompson (@MeganABC15) January 23, 2019
While she is not in a coma, she "has significant disabilities and cannot move or speak. Her family said she "has feelings, likes to be read to, and enjoys soft music."
"The important thing is that she is a beloved daughter, albeit with significant intellectual disabilities."
Personnel at the facility alerted authorities when they realized she was pregnant. Sutherland was linked to the case after DNA samples were collected from male staff.
DNA evidence was collected just YESTERDAY from the suspect in the sexual assault case at #HaciendaHealthcare. Nathan Sutherland's DNA matched the baby that was born last month to a disabled patient and he is being booked into jail now. #abc15— Megan Thompson (@MeganABC15) January 23, 2019
The suspect's name is Nathan Sutherland, according to the Phoenix Police Department. He's a Licensed Practical Nurse and has been charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse. He's invoked his fifth amendment rights.— Omar Jimenez (@OmarJimenez) January 23, 2019
Sgt. Tommy Thompson told reporters: “Sutherland was a licensed practical nurse, or an LPN, who was responsible for providing care to the victim during the time this sexual assault occurred.”
He added: "This woman was unable to move; she was unable to communicate. In other words, she was helpless. This started as a sexual assault investigation from day one."
NO PREVIOUS CRIMINAL CHARGES
Sutherland's employment history at Hacienda dates back to 2012 after he completed his licensed practical-nurse training the year before.
His license does not expire until 2020, and Sutherland had not felony charges linked to his name when he applied for the position.
This is 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland the nurse charged with raping a patient in his care at Hacienda Healthcare. The woman was in a vegetative state for 20+yrs. Sutherland initially refused to give his DNA until he was informed police had a court order. pic.twitter.com/5NhNy4okxu— Kari Lake (@KariLake) January 23, 2019
The facility runs extensive background checks on prospective employees, but nothing in Sutherland's file raised the alarm.
He was fired earlier this week, soon after the Hacienda management team learned of his arrest and the charges brought against him.
Sutherland's wife filed for divorce after seven years of marriage. The couple parted ways three weeks before the victim gave birth.
She requested that her whereabouts remain confidential for fear that Sutherland's ex-wife and mother would track her down.