Ex-Nurse Pleads Guilty to Sexually Assaulting Patient in Vegetative State

A former Arizona nurse accused of abusing a girl in a vegetative state who had been in his care and who later gave delivery to his youngster pleaded responsible on Thursday to sexual assault, in accordance to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

The nurse, Nathan Sutherland, who labored in a Phoenix nursing house, additionally pleaded responsible to one rely of abuse of a weak grownup, additionally a felony.

Mr. Sutherland, 39, faces up to 10 years in jail for the sexual assault cost, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office stated in an announcement; the abuse cost brings lifetime probation. Mr. Sutherland is being held on the Lower Buckeye Jail in Phoenix till his subsequent courtroom look, scheduled for Nov. four.

Mr. Sutherland had beforehand pleaded not responsible throughout a minute-long arraignment in February 2019. A lawyer for Mr. Sutherland couldn’t instantly be reached for touch upon Friday.

The felony case started to unfold in December 2018, when a girl at an Hacienda HealthCare facility in Phoenix who can not discuss or stroll gave delivery to a boy, a lot to the shock of workers members on the facility, which specializes in long-term care of individuals with mental disabilities.

In the weeks that adopted, the investigation grew to become the primary focus of the Phoenix Police Department, its chief stated on the time, and led to questions concerning the firm’s operations and conduct. The firm’s former chief govt resigned shortly after the arrest, and the ability grew to become the main target of not solely police investigations, but in addition investigations by the Arizona Department of Health Services and investigations by the state into Medicaid fraud.

The state Attorney General’s Office finally discovered that former officers with Hacienda improperly allotted funds, inflated expense reviews and practiced improper billing, ensuing in an overpayment of just about $11 million from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System to the ability.

The case additionally led to a lawsuit filed by the sufferer’s mother and father claiming that regardless of guarantees from the state that solely ladies would have a tendency to their daughter, Mr. Sutherland had cared for her on a whole bunch of events from 2012 by way of 2018, The Arizona Republic reported.

The girl had been in the identical situation, unable to talk or transfer, since coming into the nursing house in 1992, when she was three years outdated, in accordance to medical data. The household’s lawyer couldn’t be instantly reached for remark.

During the investigation, the Phoenix Police Department collected the DNA of male workers members on the facility, and zeroed in on Mr. Sutherland as a result of he was among the many medical workers members at Hacienda HealthCare who had been assigned to take care of the girl across the time in 2018 that the police believed she had been assaulted. A DNA pattern from Mr. Sutherland matched that of the kid, a boy who was born in December 2018. Mr. Sutherland was arrested the following month and despatched to jail in Maricopa County on suspicion of 1 rely of sexual assault and one rely of weak grownup abuse.

A licensed sensible nurse, Mr. Sutherland had labored at Hacienda since a minimum of 2012 and was assigned to a unit treating intellectually disabled individuals in 2014, the corporate stated in an announcement in 2019. He was fired instantly after the corporate discovered of his arrest, that assertion stated.

Since its founding in the late 1970s, Hacienda HealthCare has grown into one of many largest non-public suppliers of care in Arizona for individuals with severe cognitive and bodily disabilities, working principally out of a single campus about six miles south of downtown Phoenix.

“After more than two and a half years, all of us at Hacienda HealthCare are relieved that Nathan Sutherland has finally pleaded guilty to his awful offenses,” the corporate stated on Thursday.