AZ Nurse Arrested In Sexual Assault Of Patient Who Gave Birth: PD

PHOENIX, AZ — Police have arrested a male nurse at the Phoenix nursing facility where an incapacitated woman became pregnant and gave birth, officials announced at a press conference Wednesday.

Phoenix police chief Jeri Williams said that authorities have arrested 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland, who is a licensed practical nurse. Williams said Sutherland was responsible for providing care to the victim at the time of the sexual assault.

“We owed this arrest to the victim,” Williams said. “We owed this arrest to the newest member of our community, that innocent baby.”

Williams said Sutherland faces one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse. Hacienda HealthCare, the company that runs the nursing facility, said in a statement that the nurse was terminated the moment leadership learned of his arrest.

Below is the full statement issued by Hacienda:

Every member of the Hacienda organization is troubled beyond words to think that a licensed practical nurse could be capable of seriously harming a patient. Once again, we offer an apology and send our deepest sympathies to the client and her family, to the community and to our agency partners at every level.

Nathan Sutherland, who held a current state of Arizona practical nurse’s license and who had undergone an extensive background check upon hiring – was terminated from Hacienda the moment our leadership team learned of his arrest. As we have since the first minutes of this police investigation, the Hacienda team will continue to cooperate with investigators from multiple agencies in every way possible.

We will do everything in our power to ensure justice in this case.

In the past two weeks, the Hacienda team has increased security measures to ensure the safety of all our patients. We will continue to do so. We also will continue to review and improve what is already an in-depth vetting process for caregivers at Hacienda. We will not tolerate any mistreatment of a Hacienda patient, nor will we stop until every Hacienda patient is as safe as we can make them.

Phoenix police spokesman Sergeant Tommy Thompson said at the press conference that detectives authored and served search warrants to obtain records and identify any individuals who may have had access to the victim. Thompson said detectives also authored court orders to obtain DNA evidence from numerous individuals.

Officials at the police crime lab worked to compare the samples with the DNA obtained from the baby. Thompson said that on Jan.22, scientists at the crime lab determined that a DNA sample from Sutherland obtained through a court order matched the baby. Sutherland was taken into custody shortly thereafter.

Thompson said one of the police department’s concerns is whether there are more victims or how many times the sexual assault occurred.

Police began their investigation on Dec. 29 when they responded to a call of a baby in distress at Hacienda HealthCare. The baby’s mother was incapacitated, which Thompson said was a flag to the department as officers realized the woman was not in a position to give consent.

Asked by a reporter how the baby is doing, Thompson said he has been told that the baby is doing good.

“I would just say that we can’t always choose how we come into this life,” Thompson said. “But what we can choose to do as a community is love this child and that’s what he have the opportunity to do.”

Thompson said the investigation is ongoing and urged anyone with information to contact the Phoenix Police Department. The violent crimes unit can be contacted at 602-262-6141. Information can also be provided by calling Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS or 480-TESTIGO for Spanish.

Sutherland invoked his fifth amendment rights and did not participate in an interview, according to Thompson.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Joined by other police officials and city leaders, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams announces the arrest of Nathan Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse, on one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse on an incapacitated woman who gave birth last month at a long-term health care facility Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Phoenix. Photo by Ross D. Franklin, File/Associated Press

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