Former nurse Nathan Sutherland has been sentenced to a decade in prison and lifetime probation for sexually assaulting and impregnating an incapacitated woman.
Sutherland, who previously worked at the Hacienda HealthCare facility in Phoenix, was arrested and charged with sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse in 2019 after a DNA showed he was related to the child the woman gave birth to. Sutherland pleaded guilty to the charges in September.
“It’s hard to imagine a more vulnerable adult than the victim in this case,” Superior Court Judge Margaret LaBianca said at Sutherland’s sentencing according to KMOV CBS.
The woman Sutherland assaulted was 29 at the time of her sexual assault.
According to the outlet, the woman’s family said she suffers from an intellectual disability resulting from seizures she experienced early in childhood. The woman has some movement in her limbs and neck, but she cannot speak.
The pregnancy was discovered in December 2018 by an employee who was changing the garments of the victim and noticed she was in the process of delivering a child. The incident triggered reviews by state agencies and highlighted the safety concerns of patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated.
Additionally, Hacienda’s chief executive and one of the victim’s doctors resigned in the aftermath. The family’s attorneys say in a lawsuit the facility missed obvious signs the victim was pregnant including weight gain and missed menstrual periods leading up to the child’s birth.
The attorneys added, the victim, who has a feeding tube and who’s nutrition was lowered in response to her weight gain, gave birth to the child without pain medication and while she was severely dehydrated.
A judge approved a $15 million settlement against a doctor who cared for the woman for more than two decades. The state of Arizona settled a suit last summer for $7.5 million.