Nurse Arrested in Case of Vegetative Patient Rape

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on January 24, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Based on a DNA match between the suspect and the baby, Phoenix police arrested Nathan Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse in good standing at the Hacienda HealthCare facility, for the sexual assault of his assigned female patient.

Phoenix police had been working relentlessly to find the person responsible for impregnating the mentally incapacitated 29-year-old patient at Hacienda, whose baby was born in utter surprise to workers there on December 29, 2018. Since that time, Haceinda's CEO and one of the woman's physicians has resigned, another of the woman's physicians has been suspended, and now a suspect has been arrested on one charge of sexual assault and one charge of vulnerable adult abuse, both felonies.

Sutherland Avoids Police, Invokes Fifth Amendment, and Pleads Not Guilty

According to police, Sutherland, age 36, was ultimately tracked down through a combination of "good old fashioned police work" and modern science. The company had asked all of its male employees for a swab of their DNA, to test against the newborn baby's, in hopes of finding a match.

Sutherland did not acquiesce to the testing until police confronted him with a court order to do so. After reconfirming many times that Sutherland's DNA matched the baby's, police went to Sutherland's home numerous times to speak with him, but he would not let them in. When Sutherland was finally arrested at the offices of his lawyer, David Gregan, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain quiet so as to avoid self-incrimination.

According to Gregan, the only evidence against Sutherland is the DNA match, and Sutherland intends to fight the charges. Gregan said of his client. "He's innocent until proven guilty as all defendants are. We've entered not guilty pleas on his behalf; now we have to let the process play out."

Phoenix Police Not Resting Yet

Though Sutherland has been arrested, Phoenix police will not rest. After all, Sutherland had worked with patients at Hacienda since 2012, and had been assigned to the unit treating intellectually disabled people since 2014. According to Hacienda, Sutherland had "undergone an extensive background check upon hiring," which included searching criminal history and sex offender registries, checking personal references, and passing a drug screening. Yet this transpired, nonetheless, and police are concerned there could be other Sutherland victims.

Police are still trying to determine what fellow workers knew, and are looking into Sutherland's complete work history, including patients at this facility and beyond. They are letting families of incapacitated patients decide if they want sexual assault testing to be performed.

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