A licensed nurse who was supposed to care for a woman in a vegetative state at a long-term Arizona nursing facility was arrested after she gave birth to a baby last month, officials in the US announced.
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said at a press conference that 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland was arrested and will be charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse for the incident at the Hacienda Healthcare facility in Phoenix, reports Fox News.
“We have worked virtually non-stop every day, every night to resolve this case,” Chief Williams told reporters, adding that the crime was “beyond reproach.”
Sutherland invoked his Fifth Amendment rights after his arrest and did not give an interview to authorities regarding the case, according to police.
The chief said that police used “good old-fashioned police work” in addition to DNA tests on the baby to find a match and made the arrest. Sutherland had worked at the facility since 2011, officials added.
“We owed this arrest for the victim, we owed this arrest of the newest member of our community, that innocent baby,” Chief Williams said.
The 29-year-old victim has been incapacitated since the age of three and gave birth to a boy at the facility on December 29. Employees at the time said they had no idea she was pregnant. Court records say her last known medical check-up was in April.
“We may not know how many times this occurred,” Phoenix police spokesman Tommy Thompson told reporters.
Investigators had obtained a court order to collect DNA from Sutherland, which was compared to DNA from the baby boy.
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Mr Thompson added that when the assault took place, Sutherland was responsible for the woman.
“This was an employee, rather than a stranger who made his way into the facility,” he said.
The baby boy is “doing well,” according to Mr Thompson, who added that it’s the community’s job to protect the child.
“We can’t choose how we come into this world,” he told reporters.
As her guardian, the woman’s mother was required to submit an annual report to the court that included results of a medical exam.
The woman’s parents through their lawyer have disputed characterisations that their daughter is comatose, according to the Associated Press. They described her as being intellectually disabled because of seizures in early childhood. While she doesn’t speak, she has some mobility in her limbs, head and neck. She also responds to sound and can make facial gestures.
Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams said that officers spent “endless hours” investigating the “hideous crime”.
“I know our officers took this crime to heart,” she said. “This is a facility you should be safe in, and someone wasn’t.”
The arrest comes a day after officials disclosed that two doctors at Hacienda Healthcare in Arizona are no longer at the facility.
One of the doctors resigned while the other has been suspended, a spokesman for the facility told Fox Newsin a statement. Neither doctor has been identified, but both cared for the 29-year-old woman.
“The two physicians who were responsible for the care of the sexual assault victim are no longer providing medical services to Hacienda patients. One has resigned. The other one has been suspended,” the spokesman told Fox News.
The latest development also comes after the facility’s CEO, Bill Timmons, resigned earlier in January following the incident.
The facility received a “below average” health-inspection rating in 2017, according to the Medicare website.
This story was originally published on Fox news and is reprinted with permission.