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

Town hall meeting calls West Kelowna residents

West Kelowna council will host the meeting June 27

Kelowna residents talk about museum modernization

The Royal BC Museum’s public consultation continues until June 27.

Funds needed for special diving team to find missing Okanagan kayaker

Zygmunt Janiewicz was last seen on Okanagan Lake May 17

Lake Country councillors want stricter regulations, more signage on public smoking

In 2019, 21 fires in Vernon to Penticton zone have been human caused, some linked to cigarette butts

Kelowna Falcons’ take flight for shut-out victory

Kelowna’s bats and pitchers led the Falcons to a 3-0 win

VIDEO: Weekday weather update for the Okanagan Valley

Snow is expected on the Okanagan connector and thunderstorms across the Valley

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP defends dedication to constituents

LETTER: Mel Arnold says he is open and accessible

Okanagan smash-and-grab nets electric bike

Rock thrown through front door of Southward Medical Supplies, bike grabbed from near door

Home care for B.C.’s elderly is too expensive and falls short: watchdog

Report says seniors must pay $8,800 a year for daily visits under provincial home support program

B.C. ‘struggling’ to meet needs of vulnerable youth in contracted care: auditor

Auditor general says youth in contracted residential services may not be getting support they need

Okanagan school digs up $2,500 recycling prize

Kalamalka Secondary students recognized for establishing a new culture of recycling

Billboard posted along B.C.’s Highway of Tears to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women

Billboards featuring Indigenous artwork to be placed in Surrey, Kamloops and near Prince George

Driver loses tire while behind the wheel after lug-nut thief strikes in Burnaby

Burnaby RCMP are investigating after two reports of lug-nut tampering in the city this month

Federal cabinet ministers visit Edmonton, Calgary, in wake of TMX approval

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi is set to visit Trans Mountain Corp.’s terminal in Edmonton

Most Read