Earlier this month, our blog covered the story of a 29 year-old-woman in a vegetative state who had given birth to a baby boy on December 29th. The woman is a longtime resident of Hacienda Healthcare just outside Phoenix, previously falsely reported as admitted to the facility after a near drowning incident as a teenager. Instead, the woman’s family has clarified that she is nonverbal and is intellectually disabled as a result of seizures that began as a toddler. Although she is nonverbal, she is able to move her extremities and head and neck, and can show emotion through facial expressions.
This morning, Phoenix police announced that they had arrested Nathan Sutherland, a 36-year-old male nurse who had been an employee of the facility and was responsible for providing nursing care to the victim. He has been charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse after he was found to be a DNA match to the infant boy. Police required genetic testing of every male employee of Hacienda after the victim gave birth and although Sutherland initially attempted to forgo testing, he was ultimately forced by police to cooperate.
Sutherland become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in 2011 and it appears that Hacienda has been his sole employer since becoming an LPN. Prior to receiving his nursing certification, he worked as a nurse aide for 6 years. Earlier today, Hacienda released a statement that Sutherland was immediately fired upon learning of the DNA match, also saying that Sutherland went through a background check prior to being hired. Hacienda has publicly apologized for the incident, promising to follow more robust hiring and training practices.