Nurse charged with sexually assaulting woman in vegetative state who gave birth

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Authorities in Arizona have charged a 36-year-old nurse with sexual assault after a woman in a vegetative state gave birth earlier this month.

The investigation began earlier this month when officials learned that a 29-year-old Native American woman living in a yearslong vegetative state had been impregnated at the nursing facility in Phoenix.

A week after the victim gave birth, authorities began taking DNA samples from men who work at the Hacienda Healthcare facility.

"Hacienda stands committed to doing everything in our power to bring this police investigation to a quick conclusion. We will continue to cooperate with Phoenix Police and all other investigative agencies to uncover the facts in this deeply disturbing, but unprecedented situation," a statement by Hacienda HealthCare read, in part.

Chairman Terry Rambler, with the San Carlos Apache Tribe, said, “On behalf of the Tribe, I am deeply shocked and horrified at the treatment of one of our members. When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers. Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her. It is my hope that justice will be served.”

Now, an arrest has been made.

Authorities arrested 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse who was caring for the woman, on suspicion of sexually assault in the case.

Sutherland has been arrested and booked on preliminary charges of sexual assault and vulnerable-adult abuse, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said on Wednesday.

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