An Arizona nurse was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison for sexually abusing an incapacitated woman in a long-term care facility who became pregnant and later gave birth.
Arizona nurse sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexually abusing disabled woman
Nathan Sutherland received the maximum sentence set for the sexual assault charge. He was also placed on lifetime supervised probation as a conviction for abuse of a vulnerable adult stemming from his treatment of the woman.
The victim’s pregnancy was discovered in December 2018, when an employee at the Hacienda Healthcare facility in Phoenix was changing the then 29-year-old patient’s clothes and realized she was in the process of giving birth.
The employees alerted the police and claimed to be unaware that she was pregnant.
Authorities later stated that the nurse’s DNA matched a sample taken from the woman’s child. The victim, who lived at the nursing home for 26 years, suffers from medical conditions stemming from a brain disorder that, in addition to vision loss, caused her cognitive and motor deficits, so she has no functional use of her limbs.
“It is hard to imagine a more vulnerable adult than the victim in this case,” said Superior Court Judge Margaret LaBianca, highlighting that the defendant exploited his position of trust as a caregiver to sexually abuse the woman.
Before his sentence was imposed, Sutherland spoke to the court about the problems he has had in life as a result of being given up for adoption as a child.
He also offered apologies to the victim and her family and said he understood that the situation is also not fair to the child, who will be in the care of the patient’s mother.
“To the victim, I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve to be hurt, regardless of what was going on in my personal life and whatever demons I was struggling with. I had no right to put you through that,” Sutherland said.