DNA links nurse to newborn of raped disabled patient

Top News | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 25 Jan 2019

A male nurse has been arrested in Arizona on suspicion of sexually assaulting an incapacitated woman who gave birth at a long-term care facility, in a case that has shocked the nation.

The "severely disabled" woman, 29, gave birth late last month to a baby boy, sparking an investigation.

The suspect, Nathan Sutherland, 36, has been charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse.

Sutherland's DNA was matched to the baby, leading to his arrest.

Authorities said Sutherland is a licensed practical nurse who was responsible for providing care to the victim at the time the attack occurred. He had worked at the privately owned facility - Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix - for about seven years.

The unidentified victim, a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, has been a patient at the facility for 26 years. Her caregivers have said they were not aware she was pregnant.

The care center said Sutherland, who last worked at the facility on Sunday, was fired on news of his arrest. It added that he had undergone an extensive background check when he was hired.

The victim's family sought to clarify her condition, saying she was not in a coma, but had "significant intellectual disabilities as a result of seizures very early in her childhood."

The baby, born on December 29, is being cared for by the woman's family and is in good health, authorities said.

Police became aware of the pregnancy on the day of birth, when they received an emergency call about a baby in distress. They then collected DNA samples of all male staff.

Sutherland was reportedly born in Haiti and adopted and brought to the United States in 1969. He has made his first court appearance and ordered held on a US$500,000 (HK$3.9 million) cash-only bail.

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