Former nurse pleads guilty to impregnating patient at nursing home

Nathan Sutherland faces up to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman in a vegetative state at an Arizona nursing home. File Photo courtesy Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

Sept. 4 (UPI) — A former nurse at an Arizona nursing home has pleaded guilty to abusing a vulnerable woman who later gave birth to his child.

Nathan Sutherland, 39, also pleaded guilty Thursday to sexually assaulting the woman at the Hacienda HealthCare facility in Phoenix. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a lifetime probation at his Nov. 4 sentencing.

The woman was in a vegetative state due to childhood seizures. She had been at the facility since 2002 after a near-drowning incident, and her family said she is able to move parts of her body, make facial gestures and respond to sound.

Hacienda HealthCare is a 60-bed intermediate care facility for people with intellectual disabilities.

Medical examiners said the woman had been sexually assaulted numerous times and had likely been pregnant more than once.

Doctors and nurses at the facility said they didn’t know she was pregnant until they were changing her clothing and noticed she was in active labor in 2018. She gave birth to a baby boy, who is now in the care of the woman’s parents.

Police connected Sutherland to the assault after matching his DNA to the baby’s. The woman had been in Sutherland’s care numerous times between 2012 and 2018 despite her family saying they had assurances from the facility that only women would take care of their daughter.


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