Nathan Sutherland, a former nurse, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Arizona in 2021 for sexually assaulting a woman at a long-term care facility, where the woman later gave birth. The woman was sick and couldn’t defend herself, so Sutherland was able to do it. Nathan Sutherland got the most punishment he could have gotten based on the deal he made when he admitted to sexual assault.
After being found guilty of sexually abusing an adult who was weak, he was also put on probation for life.
“It’s hard to think of an adult who was more vulnerable than the victim in this case,” said Superior Court Judge Margaret LaBianca. She also said that Sutherland sexually abused the victim because she trusted him as a caregiver.
In December 2018, a worker at Hacienda Healthcare in Phoenix was helping the victim, who was 29 at the time, change her clothes when she noticed that the patient was about to give birth. The woman’s coworkers told the police that they had no idea she was pregnant.
Police said that Sutherland’s DNA was the same as a sample taken from the woman’s son. The mother of the person who got hurt is the boy’s guardian.
Sutherland told the judge that he had problems in his life because when he was a child, he was given up for adoption. After that, the judge sent Sutherland to prison.
Sutherland said, “I’m sorry to the person who got hurt.” “You didn’t deserve to be hurt, no matter what was going on in my life or what demons I was fighting. It was wrong of me to put you through that.”
The unexpected birth led state agencies to look into it, raised safety concerns for patients who are severely disabled or can’t move, and caused Hacienda’s CEO and one of the victim’s doctors to quit.
It led to a lawsuit from the victim’s parents, who said that Sutherland took care of their daughter hundreds of times from 2012 to 2018, even though the state said that only women could do that.
To help people with developmental disabilities, the state pays companies like Hacienda to do things for them. An expert who works for her family said that Sutherland spent most of her time with the patient at night, when there were fewer visitors and staff.
The family’s lawyers said that there were signs that the woman was pregnant, but Hacienda didn’t notice them. They said that in the months before the baby was born, she put on weight, got a big belly, and didn’t have her period. They said that the woman, who has a feeding tube and whose food intake was cut because she gained weight during her pregnancy, had a boy while she was severely dehydrated and didn’t have any painkillers.
The victim spent 26 years at Hacienda. Her health problems are caused by a disorder in her brain that makes it hard for her to move, think, and see. She also couldn’t move any of her body parts.
Sutherland worked at the Hacienda as a licenced practical nurse. He was fired after being arrested, and he has since given up his nursing licence.
In 2019, when Sutherland was arrested, the other patients’ families were shocked.
“He loved and cared for other people a lot.” “Or it looked like that’s what he did. I did put my faith in him, “Angela Gomez said.
She said that even in her “wildest dreams,” she would never have thought that Sutherland was the person the police were looking for.
“I thought other people knew, but I was wrong, and he fooled everyone,” Gomez said.
A judge gave a $15 million settlement to the woman who lived at Hacienda Healthcare for 26 years and was cared for by a doctor. The insurance company for the doctor says it doesn’t have to pay that much.
CEO of Hacienda Healthcare Perry Petrilli said in a statement that workers helped the police and have been thinking about the victim and her family. He said, “We are glad that he will never hurt another innocent person again.”