Arizona Nurse Pleads Not Guilty to Raping Long-Term Care Patient Who Gave Birth

On Tuesday in Maricopa County Superior Court, Nathan Sutherland—a 36-year-old Arizona nurse—pleaded not guilty to raping a severely disabled patient, who surprisingly gave birth to a baby boy back in December at the Hacienda HealthCare Skilled Nursing Facility. The 29-year-old woman lived in the Phoenix long-term care center for the past 26 years.

Local police arrested Sutherland last month after DNA evidence matched the newborn child. DNA samples were collected from all male employees at the facility, where he had been working at the facility since 2012.

The defendant was charged with sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult since the woman was unable to provide consent due to her health condition. On March 19, his initial pretrial conference will be held on March 19.

The woman became disabled due to seizures suffered early in her childhood. While law enforcement initially described her as comatose, she can respond to sounds and even make facial gestures, as well as move her head, neck, and limbs in a limited capacity.

Before the woman went into labor, Hacienda employees didn’t know she was pregnant. The staff alerted authorities when the baby boy—who is currently being taken care of by loved ones and is in good health—was born.

The police claim Sutherland raped the patient sometime from February to April. He was directly in charge of caring for the patient.

Hacienda officials said each employee undergoes an extensive background check prior to being hired. Upon his arrest, Sutherland was fired. He later voluntarily surrendered his nursing license before the state board was set to vote on his suspension.

Sutherland’s bond is set at $500,000, which includes a stipulation to wear an electronic monitoring device. His defense team plans to perform their own DNA testing.