At the start of the year it was reported that a woman who had been in a vegetative state for 14 years had given birth to a baby. She gave birth on Dec. 29, 2018, and reportedly no one at the facility was previously aware she was pregnant. Now AP News reports that Phoenix police have arrested a nurse on a charge of sexual assault for impregnating the patient, who was incapacitated due to a near-drowning incident.
Chief of Phoenix police Jeri Williams has said that investigatiors arrested 36-year-old nurse Nathan Sutherland on one count of vulnerable adult abuse and one count of sexual assault. Sutherland worked at the same healthcare facility the woman in question lived, and was (supposed to be) helping look after her. The 29-year-old woman has been incapictated ever since she was a 3-year-old.
Since Sutherland was identified as one of her caregivers, a court order to take DNA from him allowed investigators to compare his with the DNA of the baby boy. When test results were positive for a match, he was subsequently charged.
The woman's last known physical check was April 2018, which explains why the staff didn't know she was pregnant until she was giving birth. “From what I’ve been told, she was moaning. They didn’t know what was wrong with her. There was a nurse that was there, and from what I heard, she’s the one that delivered the baby,” a source said in the initial report.
Ever since news of the incident broke, the Hacienda Skilled Nursing Facility in Phoenix, Arizona has changed its protocol. "I was told that, as of now, if a male staff needs to enter a female’s room, they need to bring in a female employee with them,” an insider close to the situation said. On Jan. 20, the hospital announced that one doctor responsible for the woman's care had resigned and another had been suspended. The baby is reportedly alive and healthy.