A nurse caring for a woman with significant disabilities was arrested this week for sexually assaulting the woman. Nathan Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse, cared for the woman during the time the sexual assault occurred. The woman delivered a baby in late December as a result of the rape.
Police Chief Jeri Williams announced the arrest and provided details of Sutherland’s involvement in the woman’s care. According to Chief Williams, the department began the investigation on December 29, 2018, when officers responded to a call of a woman in labor.
The 29-year-old female victim has lived in Hacienda HealthCare for 27 years. Original reports suggested the woman lived in a vegetative state, but her family said she is not in a coma. Instead, the family said that seizures she suffered as a baby significantly impacted her intellectual capabilities and movement. However, she is aware of and responds to her caregivers and family.
Because of the woman’s vulnerable state, the police immediately classified the case as a sexual assault. Hacienda HealthCare told investigators that the pregnancy and birth of the baby came as a complete surprise.
Chief Williams throughout several weeks the Phoenix Police Department worked diligently to identify a suspect in the case. Through interviews and DNA testing, police identified Sutherland as the perpetrator.
Sutherland worked as a nurse for the woman during the time the sexual assault would have occurred. Additionally, Sutherland’s DNA matched the baby boy that was born to the woman. Police learned of the match on Tuesday, January 22.
Chief Williams said police arrested Sutherland and booked him on charges of sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse.
Following the arrest of Sutherland, Hacienda HealthCare issued a statement,
“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. 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.
Nathan Sutherland, who held a current state of Arizona practical nurse’s license and who had undergone an extensive background check upon hiring – was terminated from Hacienda the moment our leadership team learned of his arrest. As we have since the first minutes of this police investigation, the Hacienda team will continue to cooperate with investigators from multiple agencies in every way possible.”
In addition to the arrest of Sutherland, Arizona Family said the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System suspended Dr. Thanh Nguyen on January 15. Nguyen worked as the woman’s primary physician.
Sutherland used his position as an LPN to rape and abuse a vulnerable woman. His crime is beyond heinous considering the victim cannot speak nor move to defend herself.He knew by raping her that she could never tell anyone about his crime, and thought he had a perfect crime. However, Sutherland’s most significant mistake in his execution was not using a condom and impregnating the woman. His “perfect crime” fell apart, and his victim’s voice would be heard. When police matched Sutherland’s DNA to the baby, the woman finally spoke.
Sutherland is a sick and horrible man for raping a vulnerable woman. His despicable behavior of raping a woman that was in his care makes his crime even more egregious. There are not enough years he could serve in a prison that would ever bring justice for what he did to his victim.
Kudos to Phoenix Police for working diligently to bring justice to the woman and her family.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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