Male Nurse Charged After Woman in Vegetative State Gives Birth in Arizona Healthcare Facility

This photo provided by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office shows Nathan Sutherland. Phoenix police say Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse, has been arrested on a charge of sexual assault of an incapacitated woman who gave birth last month at a long-term health care facility. Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said Wednesday, …
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office via AP

A male nurse at an Arizona long-term healthcare facility has been charged with rape after a woman suffering severely diminished capacity gave birth last year.

Nathan Sutherland, 36, a licensed practical nurse employed by Hacienda HealthCare facility in Phoenix, Arizona, was arrested Wednesday after prosecutors tied his DNA to a child born to a woman who has been in a persistent vegetative state for years, the New York Post reported.

The victim has been in the care facility for many years after nearly drowning in a swimming accident when she was a child.

The 29-year-old woman was initially described as a coma victim; however, it has since been learned that she has suffered severe brain damage from her childhood swimming accident and does have some limited abilities to move her arms and legs and has a rudimentary awareness.

The birth of the child shocked staffers at the facility. They began hearing the woman vocalizing groans and grunts as the birthing process began. Staffers told police they were completely unaware she was pregnant.

Both the mother and the child are doing well, reports said.

But multiple investigations were launched after the birth to discover how a woman wholly unable to engage in consensual sexual behavior could become pregnant.

Sutherland had been one of the staffers responsible for the victim’s care at the time of the impregnation, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said Wednesday.

The suspect was booked into Maricopa County Jail on Wednesday.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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