Nurse arrested in rape of incapacitated woman who gave birth
Published 7:29 am Thursday, January 24, 2019
PHOENIX — A nurse who was supposed to be looking after an incapacitated woman at a long-term health care facility has been charged with raping her, weeks after the patient stunned her caregivers and family by giving birth to a baby boy , Phoenix police said Wednesday.
Investigators arrested Nathan Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse, on suspicion of one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said.
“We owed this arrest to the victim. We owed this arrest to the newest member of our community — that innocent baby,” Williams said.
Email newsletter signup
The surprise birth late last month triggered reviews by state agencies, highlighted safety concerns for patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated and led to disciplinary actions and resignations of staffers and managers. It also prompted authorities to test the DNA of all the men who worked at the Hacienda HealthCare facility.
Sutherland, 36, submitted his DNA sample under court order Tuesday and the results came back a few hours later, showing he was a match to the baby. He declined to speak with police and invoked his Fifth Amendment rights, police spokesman Tommy Thompson said.
Sutherland, wearing a T-shirt, black athletic pants and jacket, appeared in court Wednesday. A Maricopa County Superior Court commissioner ordered him released on a cash-only $500,000 bond. He also must wear an electronic monitoring device.
Defense attorney David Gregan had asked for a lower bond on the grounds that Sutherland didn’t have a criminal record. He described his client as a family man with young children who has lived in Arizona since 1993.
“There’s no direct evidence that Mr. Sutherland has committed these acts,” Gregan said. “I know at this point there’s DNA. But he will have a right to his own DNA expert.”
Gregan did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Investigators found that Sutherland had treated the victim and spent a lot of time with her, according to a probable cause statement. Investigators believe Sutherland raped the patient sometime between February and April.