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

Lock it or lose it, Kimberley RCMP says

Kimberley RCMP are reminding everyone to lock up their vehicles and valuable… Continue reading

Province announces $2.5-million boost to increase tourism in B.C.’s resort towns

Changes to RMI funding are bringing more money to places like Harrison and Tofino

Residents say crosswalk is unsafe

Approximately 200 Kimberley residents have expressed concerns with the crosswalk on Spokane… Continue reading

Cranbrook RCMP respond to fatal canoe incident at Moyie Lake

A young man died after a canoe overturned in the lake early Tuesday morning

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Drug decriminalization report welcomed in East Kootenay

Provincial report recommends decriminalizing people who use illicit drugs, shift focus to treatment

New flight service an ‘angel’ for medical patients

Angel Flight East Kootenay will fly medical patients to Kelowna or Vancouver

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Family dog stolen from Kootenay backyard

RCMP appealing for information on pregnant Karelian bear dog missing from Elko, B.C.

Blaine, Wash. inn owner, charged with smuggling people into B.C., granted bail

Robert Joseph Boule ordered to turn away anyone indicating a plan to enter Canada illegally

Most Read