Nurse Who Raped Incapacitated Patient Gets Maximum Sentence

Nathan Sutherland sentenced to 10 years in Hacienda HealthCare case
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2021 3:07 AM CDT
Updated Dec 3, 2021 4:28 AM CST
Ex-Nurse Admits Raping, Impregnating Female Patient
This undated file photo provided by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office shows Nathan Sutherland, who pleaded guilty on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, to sexually assaulting an incapacitated woman who later gave birth in 2018 at a long-term care facility in Phoenix.   (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

(Newser) Update: A nurse who raped and impregnated an incapacitated woman at an Arizona care facility has received the maximum sentence possible under a plea deal he signed in September. Nathan Sutherland was sentenced to 10 years in prison and lifelong probation for sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse, News 12 reports. He will also be required to register as a sex offender. "It is hard to imagine a more vulnerable adult," Judge Margaret B. LaBianca said of the victim, a quadriplegic in long-term care who was unable to communicate. Sutherland was given credit for the 1,044 days he has served in jail since his Jan. 2019 arrest. Our story from Sept. 2 follows:

The man accused of raping an incapacitated woman who ultimately gave birth at an Arizona long-term care facility has confessed to the crime. Nathan Sutherland pleaded guilty to sexual assault, for which he could be sentenced to up to a decade behind bars, plus abuse of a vulnerable adult, punishable by being put on probation for life. Sunderland, who was a nurse at Hacienda HealthCare at the time, will be sentenced Nov. 4, Arizona Central reports. It was another employee who realized the then-29-year-old patient was in labor in December 2018; Sutherland's DNA was matched to the baby boy, who was reportedly in good condition after his birth and is in the care of the victim's mother, ABC 15 reports.

Hacienda's chief executive resigned in the aftermath of the crime, as did one of the victim's doctors. The victim's parents sued, alleging Sutherland cared for their daughter on hundreds of occasions over the course of six years, despite assurances only women would care for her. They also say the facility failed to notice the pregnancy despite signs including missing menstrual periods and gaining weight. Indeed, they say, the nutrition delivered through her feeding tube was decreased as a result of the weight gain, and she gave birth while severely dehydrated. She had lived at the facility for 26 years after a near-drowning left her in a vegetative state, AZFamily reports. (Read more Arizona stories.)

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