Suspect in Rape of Woman in Vegetative State Was Christian Rapper — and His Wife Sought Divorce
Nathan Sutherland is accused of sexually assaulting the victim who unexpectedly gave birth on Dec. 29
The nurse accused of sexually assaulting an incapacitated woman who later gave birth in her long-term care facility is a twice-married father hit with divorce papers last month and formerly performed as half of a Christian rap act with his sister.
“Jesus gave your own mind to you, your spirit,” he says in the interview posted to YouTube. “It’s up to you, you know, to decide which way you want to go and stuff.”
“It’s gonna be hard, period, but try not to make excuses for the way you’re behaving,” he says. “Just keep it real, man, you know you can do it.”
Sutherland, 36, was arrested Tuesday and charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse of the 29-year-old victim, police said.
The woman, who has been a resident of the Phoenix long-term care facility operated by Hacienda HealthCare since she was a toddler, “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.
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 a $500,000 cash bond and has not entered a plea to the charges. PEOPLE’s call to Gregan was not immediately returned.
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.”
Three weeks earlier, Sutherland’s wife had filed for divorce on Dec. 5, Phoenix TV station KPHO reports. The couple had been married since 2012. Sutherland has two underage children from a prior marriage, according to the outlet.
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 undergone an extensive background check” prior to being hired to work in the Hacienda facility, and was “terminated from Hacienda the moment our leadership team learned of his arrest,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.
Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said Sutherland apparently had worked for Hacienda “since about 2011,” but the company declined to confirm Sutherland’s tenure to PEOPLE.
“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,” said the company’s statement.
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Sutherland is an orphaned Haitian immigrant who was adopted by an American couple at the age of 7 along with his then 4-year-old sister, the siblings revealed in an online biography for their musical act, SLS (Sleeplessouljaz).
Sutherland and his sister “understand, and have experienced the less than poor side of life; where you either have a shirt or some used pants with holes in them to wear (no underwear or shoes) and if you got 1 meal a day, you were considered blessed,” according to their biography. “They have never from the birth canal to now have never had anything handed over to them on a silver platter. Their adoptive parents made sure of it.”
In 2003, the duo “accepted their calling as ministers,” the biography states.
“I was 10 when I started writing my own little songs and all that stuff,” Sutherland says in the 2011 video interview. “I first started trying to sing — that didn’t work. So yeah, yeah, I’m just going to stick to rappin’ and stuff.”
Recalling his earliest years, he says: “My parents actually, they split up in Haiti, and then I remember my mom couldn’t take care of us so she brought us to an orphanage which, you know, one meal a day is a blessing. If you have a cup of rice or something, that’s a blessing. … That’s basically how we got adopted through the orphanage.”
He says the siblings’ adoptive parents forbid them to listen to rap, but they persisted.
“Mainly it was my dad, ’cause we grew up like really, really strict and stuff, and there was no hip hop music, not even if it was gospel,” he says. “But, you know, can’t stop what you were made to do, you know.”
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.
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.