Ariz. Nurse Accused of Impregnating Incapacitated Patient is Fighting Court Order for HIV Test
Nathan Sutherland has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse of the victim
The former Arizona nurse accused of sexually assaulting an incapacitated woman who later gave birth in her long-term care facility is fighting a court’s order that he be tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Such court-ordered testing would violate the nurse’s constitutional rights, said the suspect’s attorney, Edward Molina, during a court hearing Tuesday, reports The Arizona Republic.
“They want to test him for HIV and I don’t know why they don’t just test the person they believe has it,” Molina told the newspaper after the hearing.
The former nurse, Nathan Sutherland, 36, has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse of the victim, who was 29 when startled staff members of the Hacienda HealthCare facility in Phoenix discovered she was pregnant only as she was giving birth Dec. 29 to a baby boy.
Sutherland was arrested Jan. 22, and remains in a Maricopa County jail on a $500,000 cash-only bond. A call by PEOPLE to his attorney Wednesday was not immediately returned.
The incident prompted a shakeup and a criminal investigation. Bill Timmons, the CEO of Hacienda HealthCare, resigned after nearly 30 years in his position, and the doctor who cared for the victim was suspended. The company hired former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley to lead an internal investigation into the “facts and circumstances” surrounding the birth as the result of the alleged sexual assault.
The incident came to light with a 911 call by a staff member at the facility while the birth was in progress. The staff member frantically told the dispatcher, “We had no idea this woman was pregnant.”
Phoenix police say they learned about Sutherland after search warrants turned up records from the facility identifying those who may have had access to the victim during the time she was impregnated.
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DNA samples were collected from “numerous individuals,” and Sutherland was arrested after providing a DNA sample under a court order that later matched with the child, police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said at a news conference in January.
“Every member of the Hacienda organization is troubled beyond words to think that a licensed practical nurse could be capable of seriously harming a patient,” the company said in a statement following Sutherland’s arrest.
Sutherland is a twice-married father of two who was hit with divorce papers on Dec. 5, three weeks prior to the birth by the victim. He formerly performed as half of a Christian rap act with his sister, and portrayed himself as an orphaned Haitian immigrant who was adopted by an American couple at the age of 7 along with his then 4-year-old sister, according to the siblings’ online biography for their musical act, SLS (Sleeplessouljaz).
The victim’s family has since taken custody of the child, according to authorities.
The order to test Sutherland for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases was made by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Roger Hartsell, after prosecutors requested the information on behalf of the victim.
In a Feb. 26 response, Sutherland’s attorney called the request a “fishing expedition,” according to the Arizona Republic.
On Tuesday Hartsell set a March 26 court date to hear further arguments on the matter.