US Nurse arrested for impregnating woman in comatose for a decade
A nurse has been arrested in the sexual assault of an incapacitated woman who gave birth at nursing facility in United States.
According to Arizona police, the suspect was identified as 36 year-old Nathan Sutherland who was a nurse at Hacienda Skilled Nursing Facility where the woman gave birth.
The 29-year-old patient had been in a vegetative state facility for at least 14 years after a near-drowning incident gave birth on 29 December.
Staff at the facility said at the time that they were unaware she was pregnant until she went into labour.
The surprise birth late last month triggered reviews by state agencies and highlighted safety concerns for patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated.
Authorities tested the DNA of all the men who worked at the Hacienda HealthCare facility.
According to several media reports, the suspect was responsible for caring for the victim and had access to her at the time of the incident.
On January 22, authorities determined that Sutherland’s DNA matched the baby’s and he was detained.
A Maricopa County Superior Court commissioner ordered him released on a cash-only Sh ($500,000) bond. He also must wear an electronic monitoring device.
Earlier stories had described the patient as being comatose or in a vegetative state. But her parents released a statement on Tuesday disputing those characterisations.
They described her instead as 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.
The victim has been in long-term care since the age of three and her guardian, the woman’s mother was required to submit an annual report to the court that included results of a medical examination.
The child, a boy, is now in the care of the patient’s family and is said to be doing well.