Suspect in Rape of Woman in Vegetative State Voluntarily Surrenders Nursing License

Nathan Sutherland is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a long-term vegetative state who unexpectedly gave birth on Dec. 29

The man arrested for the alleged sexual assault of a woman in a long-term vegetative state who gave birth has given up his nursing license, according to multiple reports.

Instead of a formal hearing, Nathan Sutherland, who was a licensed practical nurse at Arizona’s Hacienda HealthCare, voluntarily surrendered his license to the Arizona State Board of Nursing, reports ABC15, 12News and AZ Family.

The state’s online licensing database no longer lists Sutherland as an LPN. His last day at Hacienda HealthCare was on Jan. 20.

Sutherland, 36, was a nurse in charge of the facility wing where the 29-year-old victim resided; she has been a resident of the facility since she was a toddler. He was arrested Tuesday and charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse.

Sutherland may apply to have his license reissued after a period of three years or if he is convicted, he may re-apply after he serves his sentence, according to documents obtained by AZ Family.

Incapacitated Woman Birth - 23 Jan 2019

Public records obtained by PEOPLE show that Sutherland was in “good standing” as a licensed practical nurse with the state of Arizona, which most recently renewed his license with an expiration date of April 1, 2020.

He previously held licenses as a clinical nurse assistant, certified nursing aide and nurse assistant dating back to 2005, those records reveal. Sutherland had been employed at Hacienda HealthCare as a licensed practical nurse “since about 2011,” according to Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson.

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The birth of the child caught staff members at the nursing facility by surprise, according to a 911 call by a staff member who frantically told the dispatcher, “We had no idea this woman was pregnant.”

The woman “lacks sufficient understanding and mental capacity to make decisions or give consents for her medical, placement or financial estate” and suffers from quadriplegia, recurrent pneumonia and a seizure disorder, according to her medical records.

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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. “When the incident occurred, he was responsible for the care of that victim,” Sgt. Thompson said at a news conference Wednesday.

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, Thompson said.

Nathan Sutherland, at left, in court Jan. 23, 2019. AZCentral

Police are investigating whether other patients at the facility also may have been assaulted, and have asked for the public’s help, but so far have no evidence of such behavior. “We are prepared to take this investigation wherever it goes,” said Sgt. Thompson.

Sutherland was in court Wednesday where his attorney, David Gregan, said Sutherland has no prior criminal record and has the right to seek his own DNA expert to challenge the findings that police say led to his arrest as the alleged biological father of the baby boy born to the victim on Dec. 29, The Associated Press reports.

Sutherland remains in the Maricopa County jail on a $500,000 cash bond and has not entered a plea to the charges. PEOPLE’s call to Gregan was not immediately returned. If Sutherland posts bond, he would need to wear an electronic monitoring device.

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