Nurse arrested on suspicion of raping quadriplegic patient released

Nurse, 36, who was arrested for raping incapacitated patient, 29, when DNA linked him to her baby is RELEASED on bond after refusing to enter plea

  • Nathan Sutherland, 36, has been arrested after his DNA matched with the child’s 
  • Sutherland was a nurse at Hacienda Healthcare Facility and cared for the victim 
  • He is a Haitian orphan and devout christian who regularly sings at local churches
  • He has been released on $500,000 bail after appearing in court on Wednesday 
  • The victim, 29, gave birth on December 29 having been raped at the facility 
  • The victim has been in a vegetative state at the hospice since arriving in 1992   
  • The baby is ‘doing well’ according to police and has been released from hospital 
  • Police are now investigating whether any other resident have been abused 

A male nurse arrested in Arizona on suspicion of raping a quadriplegic woman who suddenly gave birth despite being in a vegetative state for 26 years, has been released on bail.

Nathan Sutherland made an initial court appearance Wednesday, hours after his arrest was announced by Phoenix police.  

The 36-year-old father-of-four is facing one charge of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse after a DNA test identified him as the baby’s father. 

He did not enter a plea to the charges against him. 

A Maricopa County Superior Court commissioner released the recently divorced defendant on $500,000 bail bond. 

He has also been ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device.

Nathan Sutherland, 36, has been arrested after DNA evidence linked him to the rape of a quadriplegic patient who has been in a vegetative state for 26 years at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona

The defendant (left) appeared in court on Wednesday, just hours after his arrest was made public. He was released on a $500,000 bond and ordered to wear an electronic tag

The 36-year-old is a devout Christian who tours local churches in Phoenix with his sister (right) under the group name, ‘SLEEPLESSSOLJAZ’

Wearing a T-shirt, athletic pants and a jacket, Sutherland was accompanied by defense attorney David Gregan, who said his client has no prior criminal record.

Sutherland – a Haitian orphan – has been a licensed practical nurse since 2011 and was directly responsible for caring for the victim at the Hacienda HealthCare Facility, according to police.  

He divorced from his wife, Bridget Sutherland, last year. The motion was ordered on December 28, 24 hours before the birth of the victim’s child. 

The defendant refused to answer investigator’s questions after his arrest.

Hacienda officials say Sutherland went through an ‘extensive background check’ before he was hired.  

They added that he was terminated ‘the moment our leadership team learned of his arrest.’

‘Every member of the Hacienda organization is troubled beyond words to think that a licensed practical nurse could be capable of seriously harming a patient,’ the statement continued. 

‘Once again, we offer an apology and send our deepest sympathies to the client and her family, to the community and to our agency partners at every level.’ 

Male staff working at the medical facility were ordered by police to submit DNA tests as part of their investigation into the sexual assault.

However, Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson say Sutherland’s DNA wasn’t volunteered and they had to file a court order which passed on Tuesday. 

Sutherland was arrested the same day after the results came back as a match. 


Sutherland divorced from his wife last Bridgett last year (left). The pair lived with their four-children in their Phoenix home, a neighbor revealed. Bridgett owns a catering company which Sutherland has worked for (seen right)

According to court documents, the motion of divorce was ordered on December 28, 24 hours before the birth of the victim’s child (Pictured: Sutherland sings at Bridgett’s birthday in October, 2016)

The defendant has worked at Hacienda for eight years. 

State records show he was first became a clinical nursing assistant in 2005, before becoming an licensed practitioner nurse. 

The 36-year-old is a Haitian orphan and devout christian who regularly tours local churches to perform Christian rap songs in the group ‘SLEEPLESSOULJAZ’, alongside his sister. 

‘My parent’s split up in Haiti and I remember my mom couldn’t take care of us, so she took us to an orphanage’, Sutherland said in 2011. 

‘Even though it was an orphanage you were blessed if you had one cup or bowl of rice or something a day,’ he added.

Sutherland (left) is a Haitian orphan who was adopted to the United States when he was a child

Sutherland (right) has worked at Hacienda since 2011. He has been a nurse since 2005, according to state documents

A former neighbor of the nurse has described him as a ‘quiet family man’.  

Esella Burr said on Wednesday that Sutherland was her neighbor for more than five years until he sold his Phoenix-area home in October.

Burr says he shared the home with his wife and four children, and she saw the couple leave for church every Sunday.

She says Sutherland would sometimes wave or start a conversation with her and had mentioned that he enjoyed his job as a nurse.

Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix where a 29-year-old woman gave birth despite being incapacitated for more than a decade 

The woman gave birth to a baby boy on December 29 as staff at Hacienda HealthCare frantically called 911 for assistance, telling an operator that they had not known the 112-pound patient was pregnant. 

The baby has since been released from the hospital and the victim’s family have said they will take care of the boy. 

‘The baby I am told is doing good,’ Phoenix police Sergeant Tommy Thomson said.

Thompson said the baby was healthy and full-term.

‘We can’t always choose how we come into this life, but we can choose as a community how we will love this child — and that’s what we need to do,’ he said.  

A lawyer for the woman’s family has said the infant ‘has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for,’ according to The New York Times. 

According to the victim’s family, their daughter’s condition includes severe brain damage, seizure disorder, and psycho-motor retardation.

She’s been in a vegetative state for 26 years and is quadriplegic.    

‘She does not speak but has some ability to move her limbs, head and neck,’ The family’s attorney said in a statement.

‘The important thing here is that contrary to what’s been reported, she is a person, albeit with significant intellectual disabilities.

‘She has feelings, likes to be read to, enjoys soft music and is capable of responding to people she is familiar with, especially family.’

Sgt. Tommy Thompson said investigators are working to determine whether other patients at the facility have been abused. 

Officials of the non-profit health care company say they will review and improve ‘what is already an in-depth vetting process’ for caregivers at the hospice.

They also added that extra security measures have been implemented over the past few weeks to ensure the safety of their patients. 

Hacienda HealthCare CEO Bill Timmons stepped down last month in light of the scandal

Hacienda HealthCare’s CEO William Timmons resigned on December 31 as the provider announced new safety measures, including more than one staff member being present during patient interactions and more scrutiny of visitors.

A former worker at the healthcare center previously said staff were financial incentives to encourage them not to officially report problems and that there was a climate of fear among her colleagues. 

Marla Kica also claimed Timmons would get the final sign off on every final report and recommendation as he was her direct supervisor, that staff were afraid of him.

Regulators wanted to remove developmentally disabled patients from the long-term care facility years before the woman gave birth. 

On Friday, Hacienda announced that another female patient had alleged physical abuse at the hands of staff members.

Hacienda officials said in a news release that the patient accused a registered nurse and a certified caregiver, both women, of yelling at her and hitting her head and arm.

Hacienda officials said the patient showed no signs of injury or abuse and that the two workers had no history of complaints and denied the allegations. They were placed on administrative leave during an investigation.

Police say they were informed about the complaint but weren’t able to corroborate anything. 

Phoenix police officers are pictured here visiting residents of the home around the time of the holidays in 2014

Members of the Phoenix police department would regularly visit the home during the holidays

The two doctors responsible for overseeing the care of victim been identified, just days after the hospital announced the pair would no longer be treating patients there.

On Monday, the Hacienda HealthCare Facility revealed one doctor overseeing the unnamed woman’s care had been suspended, and another doctor had resigned.

Dr. Thanh Nguyen has been revealed as the victim’s primary care doctor in a suspension letter obtained by CBS News.


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Issued on January 15 – 10 days after the story first broke – the letter, addressed to Nguyen, states he placed ‘one or more’ of his patients’ heath and welfare ‘in danger’.

Nguyen has been suspended without pay until a full internal investigation is carried out by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS).   

The second physician is believed to be Dr. Phillip Gear, a veteran pediatrician in Phoenix who has previously been reprimanded by the Arizona Medical board, after the death of an infant under his care.


On Monday, the hospital confirmed that two doctors responsible for overseeing the victim’s care would no longer be practicing at the facility. Dr. Nguyen (left)  was suspended on January 15. Dr. Gear (right) has resigned, a statement said

Practicing for more than 30 years, court records show Dr. Gear last checked the victim in April 2018 and noted no major changes in her health or condition.

However, eight months later on December 29, the woman unexpectedly gave birth to a baby boy.

Both of the woman’s caregivers have reportedly claimed to be unaware she was pregnant, but the time of Dr. Gear’s last interaction with the victim would suggest she had been a few weeks pregnant at the time of the examination.

This isn’t the first time Dr. Gear has been involved in an instance of negligence in relation to his care of a patient.

In 2001, Gear was reproached by the Arizona Medical Board for failing to perform a rectal exam on a toddler under his care, who later died.

Gear (above) was previously embroiled in a negligence dispute in 2001, when an infant patient died in his care 

The board concluded Gear’s actions constituted negligence resulting in the child’s death, according to FOX News 10.

‘The two physicians who were responsible for the care of the sexual assault victim are no longer providing medical services to Hacienda patients. One has resigned. The other one has been suspended,’ the hospital said in a statement on Monday.

‘Once again, we offer an apology and send our deepest sympathy to the client and her family. Hacienda intends to do everything possible to restore its credibility in the eyes of our patients, families, the community and our agency partners at every level.’

 

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