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Arrest Made In Case Of Care Home Patient Who Gave Birth

Maricopa County Sheriff's Department / Google Maps

Earlier this month, the country was shocked by news of an incapacitated Arizona woman who gave birth at her care home.

The unnamed patient was identified only as a 29-year-old Native American woman who has has been severely disabled for more than a decade.

(While it was originally reported that the patient was in a vegetative state, her family now says that's not the case.)

After DNA testing employees of the Hacienda Healthcare care home where the woman is a patient, police have arrested one of the facility's nurses and charged him with sexually assaulting her.

Hacienda Healthcare
Hacienda Healthcare has fired a nurse after he was arrested for sexually assaulting a patient.Google Maps

The suspect, Nathan Sutherland, 36, is a licensed nurse who was one of the victim's caregivers, according to police.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said Sutherland's arrest came after a sample of Sutherland's DNA matched the patient's baby boy. He was charged with both sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse.

Police say they're continuing to investigate whether other patients at Hacienda may have been assaulted, but that Sutherland refused to answer questions following his arrest. They say Sutherland has worked at Hacienda since at least 2011.

Nathan Sutherland
Sutherland was one of the victim's caregivers, according to police.Maricopa County Sheriff's Department

Hacienda's CEO, Bill Timmons, resigned earlier this month as the scandal broke. The care home has also been investigated by Arizona's Department of Economic Security, as the state's Department of Health Services ordered Hacienda to follow "heightened safety

Hacienda has launched its own independent investigation into patient safety, as two doctors responsible for the patient are no longer with the care home - one resigned while another was suspended.

John Michaels, a lawyer for the family of the woman who gave birth, previously said the baby boy was born into "a loving family and will be well cared for."

Michaels said the patient's family was "outraged, traumatized, and in shock by the abuse and neglect of her daughter at Hacienda Healthcare."

Before the nurse's arrest, both current and former Hacienda employees said it was unbelievable that the woman's caregivers did not notice her pregnancy before her delivery, as staff claimed in their 911 call when the patient gave

"I can't believe someone would bathe her for nine months, never know she wasn't having her period, she wasn't growing in her midsection," a former employee told ABC 15.

"That nurses weren't keeping track of her weights. Those things are just shocking to me."

On Tuesday, the patient's parents clarified that their daughter is not comatose,  as news reports and the chief of the San Carlos Apache Tribe have claimed, but only intellectually disabled.

They say she has limited mobility, can respond to  sounds, and makes facial gestures.

Hacienda's records describe the patient as "not alert."

[H/T: USA Today, CTV News, CNN, Huffington Post]

We'll share updates on this case as it develops.

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