UPDATED 02/7/19 at 7:49 p.m. ET: Hacienda HealthCare, the long-term care facility where Nathan Sutherland was accused of raping and impregnating an incapacitated patient, has shut down, AP reports. The announcement arrived on Thursday after Hacienda HealthCare's board of directors made the decision.
See original story below.
A former Arizona nurse who is accused of raping and impregnating an incapacitated patient has pleaded not guilty, the New York Daily News reports.
Nathan Sutherland entered the plea in Maricopa County Superior Court on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after he was arrested on sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult charges. At the time of his arrest, the 36-year-old was still working as a practical nurse at Arizona's Hacienda HealthCare, where an unidentified patient—who was originally reported to be in a vegetative state for over a decade—gave birth in late December. The attorney for the woman's family has clarified the woman's condition last month, claiming she was not comatose or in a vegetative state.
"The important thing here is that contrary to what's been reported, she is a person, albeit with significant intellectual disabilities," attorney John Micheaels told The Arizona Republic. "She has feelings and is capable of responding to people she is familiar with, especially family."
Law enforcement launched an investigation into the rape and subsequent pregnancy, which no one was aware of until the woman went into labor on Dec. 29, 2018. Investigators obtained a court order to obtain the DNA of every man who worked at the Arizona Hacienda. Sutherland's DNA reportedly matched the woman's newborn.
"Mr. Sutherland, just as you and I are, is entitled to due process of the law," the suspect's attorney David Gregan told reporters after Tuesday's hearing. "Mr. Sutherland is entitled to constitutional protections."
Following the woman's pregnancy, Hacienda's longtime CEO Bill Timmons stepped down from his position. The facility's board of directors accepted his resignation unanimously.