Nurse in Arizona charged after incapacitated woman gave birth

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(NBC) – A male nurse at a health care facility in Phoenix where an incapacitated woman gave birth in December has been arrested, police said Wednesday.

Nathan Sutherland, 36, is being held at the Maricopa County Jail on sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse charges.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson with the Phoenix Police Department said Sutherland was a licensed practical nurse at Hacienda HealthCare and “was responsible for providing care” to the woman around the time she became pregnant.

Thompson said Sutherland had been employed at Hacienda since about 2011 and believes he no longer works for the facility.

“This is a facility that you should be safe in and someone wasn’t,” Mayor Thelda Williams said at a news conference.

The arrest comes after a 29-year-old woman gave birth on Dec. 29 to a boy at Hacienda HealthCare, a long-term care center in Phoenix where she has been a patient for about 10 years.

In a statement Tuesday, the woman’s family said she is “not in a coma” but does have “significant intellectual disabilities” stemming from seizures she suffered early in her childhood.

“She does not speak but has some ability to move her limbs, head and neck,” the family said through their attorney. “Their daughter responds to sound and is able to make facial gestures. The important thing is that she is a beloved daughter, albeit with significant intellectual disabilities.

Police Chief Jeri Williams said officers were made aware of the pregnancy on Dec. 29 when they received a 911 call about a baby in distress.

Given the woman’s condition, police began investigating the incident as a sexual assault. Thompson said during the investigation DNA samples from numerous male employees at the facility were requested and matched to DNA from the baby.

One of the samples collected came from Sutherland. On Tuesday, the police department’s crime lab learned that Sutherland’s DNA matched the baby’s and he was taken into custody.

Thompson told reporters that the baby “is doing good.”

The woman’s caregivers were reportedly unaware she was pregnant until she went into labor. The pregnancy led to one of the woman’s physicians being suspended and another resigning.

The facility’s CEO, Bill Timmons, also resigned on Jan. 7.

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