An arrest has been made in connection to the case where a woman who has been in a persistent incapacitated state since age 3 gave birth at a longterm care facility in Phoenix, AZ, authorities said in a press conference Wednesday morning.
Nathan Sutherland, a 36-year-old employee of Hacienda HealthCare, will be charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse. Sutherland, who worked as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at the facility, was taken into custody Tuesday after providing DNA samples that matched that of the baby's. Police say they have found no evidence linking anyone else to the case.
#BREAKING: Police release the mugshot of 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland, the Hacienda nurse who has been arrested for sexual assault after police say they believe he raped the woman in a vegetative state who gave birth. His DNA matched the baby’s DNA #azfamily pic.twitter.com/lASyuqvErM— Briana Whitney (@BrianaWhitney) January 23, 2019
According to police, Sutherland had worked at Hacienda HealthCare since at least 2011 and was responsible for taking care of the woman at the time at the time the sexual assault occurred. The facility is currently facing an internal review and CEO Bill Timmons resigned in light of the case. Two physicians who were also in charge of the victim's care are no longer offering medical services to the facility's patients, according to a statement released by Hacienda HealthCare on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old woman – who is not being named because she is a victim of sexual assault – gave birth to a healthy boy in late December. Hacienda HealthCare staff has alleged no one knew she was pregnant until she went into labor.
She was identified as a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. Though it has been previously reported she was in a coma, her family furthered clarified her condition in statement released by their attorney Tuesday. "The victim’s parents would like to make clear that their daughter is not in a coma," the statement read. "She has significant intellectual disabilities as a result of seizures very early in her childhood."