Nurse accused of raping patient in Arizona pleads not guilty

The 29-year-old victim has been in long-term care since age 3 after suffering a near-drowning

FILE - This undated file photo provided by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office shows Nathan Sutherland, who on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, is scheduled to be arraigned on a charge that he sexually assaulted an incapacitated woman who later gave birth at a long-term care facility in Phoenix. Investigators say Sutherland’s DNA matched a sample from the woman’s newborn, though Sutherland’s attorney says there’s no direct evidence linking Sutherland to the rape. (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office via AP, file)

A nurse facing criminal charges in the rape of an incapacitated woman who later gave birth at a long-term care facility in Phoenix pleaded not guilty Tuesday during a brief court appearance.

The only comments by Nathan Dorceus Sutherland came when he identified himself to the court and stated his birth date. Afterward, Sutherland’s attorney vowed a vigorous defence, but declined to answer questions from reporters.

Authorities say Sutherland, 36, was working as a licensed practical nurse at Hacienda Healthcare in Phoenix when he raped the 29-year-old victim, who has been in long-term care since age 3 after suffering a near-drowning.

She gave birth to a boy at the facility on Dec. 29. Employees said they had no idea she was pregnant.

The surprise birth triggered reviews by state agencies, highlighted safety concerns for patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated and prompted the resignations of Hacienda’s chief executive and one of the victim’s doctors.

READ MORE: Woman in vegetative state for decade reportedly gives birth

READ MORE: Arrest made in case of incapacitated woman who gave birth

Investigators say Sutherland’s DNA matched a sample from the woman’s newborn boy, who is being cared for by her family.

Sutherland, who was shackled and carrying a legal pad during the arraignment hearing, pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual abuse and abuse of a vulnerable adult. He remains jailed on a $500,000 bond.

Hacienda fired Sutherland after his arrest. He has since given up his nursing license.

Sutherland attorney David Gregan said he’ll make sure his client’s constitutional rights are respected. “Mr. Sutherland, just as you and I are, is entitled to a full defence,” Gregan said.

Gregan, who had previously said there is no direct evidence linking Sutherland to the crime, declined to comment on the DNA evidence prosecutors say they used to arrest his client.

Prosecutors asked a judge on Friday to order that Sutherland be tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. A judge hasn’t yet ruled on the request.

An Arizona law says a person accused of sexual assault is subject to tests to determine whether they have a sexually transmitted disease. Such results are to be released to the victims.

___

Jacques Billeaud, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ladysmith author wins American award for her new children’s book: The Moon Watched it All

Shelley Leedahl’s book took gold in the All Ages Picture Book category

Ladysmith Historical Society sees big turnout for salmon dinner fundraiser

Over 200 people attended the event held as a fundraiser to support the Society

Nanaimo Ladysmith school district deciding how best to provide menstrual products for students

Early cost estimates tag $75,000 for product dispensers; trustees seek student consultation

Lefebure rebuilds his previous life in construction

Former North Cowichan Mayor enjoys the transition back to physical outdoor work

The 13th Annual State of the Island Economic Summit to Return to Nanaimo This Month

With 608 attendees in 2018, the upcoming Summit promises to be a success

VIDEO: U.S. officials refute British couple’s ‘accidental’ border-crossing claim

Authorities say couple was arrested after illegal entry from B.C., with $16,000 and marijuana

Woman, 24, faces life-altering injuries after being dragged 4 blocks by vehicle in Vancouver

A gofundme account says the woman will have to undergo multiple complex surgeries

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

One person hurt in crash at busy Nanaimo intersection

Minivan, sport utility vehicle collide at old Island Highway, Bowen Road and Norwell Drive

Two RCMP vehicles vandalized in Duncan over long weekend

Local Mounties asking for help in finding culprits

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Most Read