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Arizona nurse pleads not guilty in case of incapacitated woman who gave birth at Phoenix health care facility

The New York Daily News - 2/5/2019

Feb. 05--The Arizona nurse accused of raping and impregnating a woman with "significant intellectual disabilities" at a Phoenix health care facility pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Tuesday, the Maricopa County Superior Court said.

Nathan Sutherland, 36, was charged with sexual assault in the case, which only came to light after the woman shockingly gave birth at the Hacienda HealthCare facility.

He was nabbed by police on Jan. 23, nearly a month after the 29-year-old female patient had the baby.

Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse, also faces one count of vulnerable adult abuse. He was still working at the facility at the time of his arrest, Police Chief Jeri Williams said at a press conference last month.

Police were led to Sutherland after administering DNA tests at the health care facility. His matched the baby's, Sgt. Tommy Thompson said.

Previous reports indicated that the woman was comatose. Her lawyer, however, said she was conscious.

"Contrary to what's been reported, she is a person, albeit with significant intellectual disabilities," attorney John Micheaels told The Arizona Republic. "She has feelings and is capable of responding to people she is familiar with, especially family."

The woman had been a patient at the facility since she was 3, according to the paper.

It was not immediately clear what type of care Sutherland performed for the woman, police said.

Two physicians who were responsible for caring for the patient were no longer at the facility, Hacienda HealthCare said. One was suspended and the other resigned.

The baby was said to be "quite well."

"We can't always choose how we come into this life, but we can choose as a community to love this child," Williams said.

Sutherland's next court date is March 19.

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