Nurse accused of sexually assaulting cognitively impaired patient at an Arizona nursing facility is pleading not guilty

Arizona’s FamilyNathan Sutherland, left, made his first court appearance on Wednesday in the case of a patient who was raped at a Phoenix care facility.
  • Nathan Sutherland, 36, appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday as he faced charges in connection to the sexual assault of a female patient at the Hacienda Skilled Nursing Facility in Phoenix.
  • The unnamed female patient, 29, gave birth to a baby boy late last month, sparking an investigation.
  • Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse who cared for the victim, was ordered held on $US500,000 cash bond as he awaits trial.
  • His lawyer said the only evidence in the case is the DNA sample that investigators say proves Sutherland is the father of the victim’s child. Sutherland is pleading not guilty.

The nurse accused of sexually assaulting a cognitively impaired patient who gave birth at a Phoenix care facility appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday.

Nathan Sutherland, 36, was ordered held on $US500,000 cash bond as he awaits trial on charges of sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse, which are both felonies. He is pleading not guilty.

Prosecutors also asked that Sutherland submit to an HIV test, but the judge said that was not possible at the time.

During the brief hearing, Sutherland’s attorney, David Gregan, said the only evidence in the case is the DNA sample that investigators say proves Sutherland is the father of the victim’s child. Gregan said they will be conducting their own independent DNA test. He added that Sutherland has no prior arrests.

“He seems to be OK under the circumstances,” Gregan told local CBS affiliate Arizona’s Family. “He’s innocent until proven guilty, as all defendants are. We’ve entered a not guilty pleas on his behalf; now we have to let the process play out.”

The mayor, police chief, and a team of investigators announced Sutherland’s arrest at a highly publicized news conference Wednesday morning.

Read more:
Police arrest 36-year-old nurse in sexual-assault case of cognitively impaired woman at Phoenix care facility

Phoenix authorities say they obtained a DNA sample from the nurse on Tuesday, and identified him as the father of the victim’s baby soon after. Sutherland continued to work at the facility as investigators tried to identify the assaulter, and completed what would be his last shift on Sunday, local NBC affiliate 12 News reported. He was booked into the Maricopa County Jail on Wednesday morning.

Sutherland was immediately fired from Hacienda HealthCare on Wednesday. In a statement, the company said they are “troubled beyond words to think that a licensed practical nurse could be capable of seriously harming a patient.”

“Once again, we offer an apology and send our deepest sympathies to the client and her family, to the community and our agency partners at every level,” Hacienda added.

The statement continued to explain that Sutherland was a licensed professional and had “undergone an extensive background check upon hiring,” and that the facility has increased security measures in the last two weeks.

Sutherland has reportedly been married twice and has 2 kids

Hacienda healthcareABC 15The Hacienda Skilled Nursing Facility in Phoenix is pictured above. Sutherland was fired from the facility immediately after his arrest on Wednesday.

According to state nursing records the Arizona Republic obtained, Sutherland completed his nursing-assistant training in 2005, and later passed the exam to become a licensed practical nurse in 2011. That licence allows him to practice as an LPN in multiple states and doesn’t expire until April 2020. When he applied to renew his nursing licence in April 2016, he reportedly listed himself as married and said that he had been working at Hacienda HealthCare since January 2012.

It has also been revealed that Sutherland was married twice, and that his second wife reportedly filed for divorce on December 5 – just three weeks before the victim gave birth.

The Republic obtained the divorce petition, in which Sutherland’s estranged wife asked that the court not release her address because she’s afraid that Sutherland’s ex-wife and mother would harass her “as they did before.”

The two were reportedly married in 2012, shortly after Sutherland divorced his first wife. Sutherland does not have any kids with his second wife, but had two from his first marriage, according to the Republic.

He was apparently part of a Christian rap duo

Phoenix police chief jeri williamsArizona’s FamilyPhoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson speaks at the press conference announcing Sutherland’s arrest on Wednesday.

According to videos seen by ABC 15 Arizona, Sutherland is also part of a Christian rap duo called Sleeplesssouljaz with his sister. Sutherland explains in one video that he and his sister were born in Haiti, but were put up for adoption by their mother after their parents split as kids and she couldn’t take care of them anymore.

In 1989, an American couple adopted them and brought them to the US, when Sutherland was 7 and his sister was 4, according to an online bio about the group.

Sutherland’s lawyer said in court Wednesday that his client had been living in Arizona since 1993 and became a naturalized citizen in 2011.

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