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Nurse charged in case of woman in vegetative state who gave birth

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Updated January 23, 2019 11:59 AM EST

By TERRY TANG, Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — A licensed practical nurse has been arrested on a charge of sexually assaulting an incapacitated woman who gave birth last month at a long-term health care facility, Phoenix police said Wednesday.

Investigators arrested 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse, on suspicion of one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said.

Sutherland was one of the woman's caregivers at the Hacienda HealthCare facility, and he was charged after authorities obtained a court order to take a DNA sample from him, which was compared to DNA of the baby boy, said police spokesman Tommy Thompson.

Sutherland declined to speak with police, Thompson said.

The 29-year-old victim has been incapacitated since the age of 3 and gave birth at the facility Dec. 29.

Employees said they had no idea she was pregnant. As her guardian, the woman's mother was required to submit an annual report to the court that included results of a medical exam.

Police had said they were collecting DNA from all male employees at the center.

Hacienda HealthCare on Sunday announced that one doctor who had cared for the woman resigned and another was suspended.

The woman's parents on Tuesday through their attorney disputed characterizations that their daughter is comatose.

They described her as being intellectually disabled because of seizures in early childhood. While she doesn't speak, she has some mobility in her limbs, head and neck. She also responds to sound and can make facial gestures.

PHOENIX (CIRCA via WOAI) — Authorities are reportedly investigating a disturbing rape of a woman in a vegetative state at a nursing facility.

It happened at Hacienda Healthcare Facility in Phoenix. Doctors and nurses had no idea the woman was pregnant, so were stunned when she went into labor last week.

The woman has been in a vegetative state for about 14 years after a near-drowning accident, KTVK reported.

According to the news station's source, the patient started moaning and a nurse ended up delivering the baby. The woman gave birth to a healthy boy Dec. 29.

The source said the patient had around-the-clock care with many people having access to her room.

Adult Protective Services and the Arizona Health Department are both looking into the rape, as well as local law enforcement.

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