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Nurse Arrested in Case of Comatose Woman Who Gave Birth

Nathan Sutherland, a former nurse at Hacienda HealthCare,​ faces one count of sexual assault and one count of abusing a vulnerable adult.

by Leila Ettachfini
Jan 23 2019, 6:46pm

A nurse at Hacienda HealthCare in Arizona has been arrested after a 29-year-old woman in a vegetative state gave birth in late December. Police arrested 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland after DNA samples taken of all male employees at Hacienda Healthcare showed that his DNA swab matched that of the child born in December, Pheonix police told KTAR News.

Sutherland faces one count of sexual assault and one count of abusing a vulnerable adult, although police are not certain how many times the victim was assaulted. Sutherland, who was fired immediately following his arrest on Tuesday, had been working at Hacienda HealthCare since 2011. According to Pheonix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson, investigators are still looking into whether any other patients at Hacienda may have been abused.

The victim, who was under Sutherland's direct care when the rape occurred, has been in a vegetative state since the age of three after she almost drowned to death. Nurses at the facility claim they had "no idea" the patient was even pregnant until she was in labor, and then decided to call 911. According to police, the newborn was birthed successfully and is doing well.

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Earlier this month, after reports about the incident went public, Hacienda HealthCare CEO Bill Timmons and one of the victim's doctors resigned. Since then, another one of her doctors has been suspended. Following Timmons resignation, Gary Orman, executive vice president of Hacienda HealthCare’s board issued a statement to The New York Times. “[We] accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation, an unprecedented case that has devastated everyone involved, from the victim and her family to Hacienda staff at every level of our organization,” he said.

According to The Washington Post, investigators are asking families to decide whether or not they want their loved ones at Hacienda tested for signs of sexual assault.