- Phoenix police have made an arrest in the sexual-assault case of a cognitively impaired woman who was a patient at the Hacienda HealthCare Skilled Nursing Facility.
- The 29-year-old woman unexpectedly gave birth late last month, sparking a sexual-assault investigation.
- At a Wednesday morning press conference, police identified the suspect as licensed nurse Nathan Sutherland, 36.
A male nurse has been arrested in connection to the sexual assault of a cognitively impaired woman at a Phoenix care facility.
The unnamed 29-year-old woman unexpectedly gave birth late last month at the Hacienda HealthCare Skilled Nursing Facility, sparking a sexual-assault investigation for which police took DNA swabs from all male staff members in order to determine the baby’s paternity.
At a Wednesday morning press conference, police identified the suspect as 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland, a licensed nurse who took care of the woman at the facility.
Police said Sutherland was arrested on one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse. He is being held at the Maricopa County Jail. He has invoked his Fifth Amendment right and is not speaking to police about the case.
“This was an employee, rather than a stranger who made his way into the facility,” police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson said during the press conference. “We have no indication that there were other people involved, but again, this is an ongoing investigation.”
Thompson also said police may never know how many times the woman was assaulted.
Sutherland is a licensed practicing nurse who has worked at the facility since 2011, Thompson said. Police collected his DNA yesterday.
Thompson said the woman’s baby is doing “quite well” and believes the boy is out of the hospital. He believes it was a full-term pregnancy.
The family’s attorney says the woman is more cognisant than previously reported
John Micheaels, an attorney for the woman’s family, told INSIDER on Tuesday that the woman has been a patient at the facility for over 20 years. He said she was left significantly cognitively disabled following seizures she had at a young age.
It was originally reported that the woman, a member of the San Carlos Apache tribe, was in a vegetative state, in which one has no cognitive function. Her family clarified in a statement Micheaels issued Tuesday that she has some awareness of her surroundings and control over her body.
“She does not speak but has some ability to move her limbs, head and neck. Their daughter responds to sound and is able to make facial gestures,” the statement said.
“The important thing is that she is a beloved daughter, albeit with significant intellectual disabilities. She has feelings, likes to be read to, enjoys soft music, and is capable of responding to people she is familiar with, especially family,” the statement continued.
Micheaels told INSIDER in a statement on Wednesday that the family is aware of the arrest, doesn’t wish to comment, and asks for privacy.
- Read more about Hacienda HealthCare:
- Police are investigating a second assault accusation at the Arizona care facility where a cognitively impaired woman gave birth
- The cognitively impaired woman who gave birth at an Arizona care facility is more cognisant than previously reported, her family’s attorney reveals
- At the Arizona nursing home where a cognitively impaired woman gave birth, an employee was fired in 2013 for making ‘inappropriate, sexual’ comments to patients
- Former caregiver of the cognitively impaired woman who gave birth at a nursing home says she never could have given consent, and an ex-manager says the company covered up another sexually inappropriate incident