An arrest has been made in the horrifying case of a young woman at a Phoenix, Ariz. healthcare facility who unexpectedly gave birth last month while in a vegetative state.
According to CNN, Nathan Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse who was caring for the young woman at Hacienda HealthCare facility has been arrested and is currently facing charges of sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse.
Sutherland provided a DNA sample, per court order, and it was determined that his DNA “matched the baby” that the woman ultimately gave birth to, Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson confirmed.
The 29-year-old patient has been in the facility since 2002, when she was a just a child and is not able to give consent.
Family members said that the woman has “significant intellectual disabilities” but is able to move and responds to sound.
“The victim’s parents would like to make clear that their daughter is not in a coma,” a statement by the attorney for the parents, John A. Michaels noted. “She has significant intellectual disabilities as a result of seizures very early in her childhood.”
She went into labor late December, shocking family members, and her caretakers.
Sutherland has been working with Hacienda HealthCare since 2001, and currently investigators are trying to figure out if he has committed other assaults, or if the patient in question was assaulted more than once, CNN notes.
“We owed this arrest to the victim. We owed this arrest to the newest member of our community — that innocent baby,” Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said in a news conference Wednesday.
According to Thompson, the baby is doing well, although it was not made clear who is caring for the infant.
The healthcare facility released a statement Wednesday saying that its members are “troubled beyond words to think that a … nurse could be capable of seriously harming a patient.”
Just two days before Sutherland’s arrest, the doctor in charge of the woman’s care resigned, and another doctor was suspended. Neither doctors have been identified.