Former Arizona nurse Nathan Sutherland has been sentenced to ten years behind bars for the sexual assault of a woman in a vegetative state who later gave birth.
Per CBS News, Sutherland received the maximum sentence as part of his guilty plea deal. Following his release, he will be on lifetime probation for his assault of the unidentified woman who gave birth to a child that matched his DNA. “It's hard to imagine a more vulnerable adult than the victim in this case," said Superior Court Judge Margaret LaBianca upon sentencing Sutherland on Thursday.
Employees at the Hacienda Healthcare facility in Phoenix, Arizona, first noticed the incapacitated woman was pregnant in December 2018 when her garments were being changed. Police ordered Sutherland to submit a DNA sample, which was later confirmed to match. The mother of the victim is currently the guardian of the child.
"To the victim, I am sorry," Sutherland said in court. "You didn't deserve to be hurt no matter what was going on in my personal life and the demons I was fighting. I had no right to put you through that."
At the start of 2019, police announced plans to investigate after the woman gave birth despite having been in a vegetative state for 14 years. Sutherland was later arrested that same month on one count of vulnerable adult abuse, and one count of sexual assault. He previously worked at the same facility where the woman was being held. In February 2019, it was announced the facility would close.
Earlier this year, judge Theodore Campagnolo approved a $15 million settlement in a lawsuit against a doctor who was responsible for the unidentified woman’s care.