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

Greater Victoria gas stations could push to 167.9 cents a litre this week

Analyst says high prices are due to supply and demand

Saanich Police salutes fallen officer

Const. Robert Kirby was killed in the line of duty on April 24, 1960

How worried should we be about Vancouver Island bees?

One bee species hasn’t been seen since 1990

Rickter Scale: The view through a smoky mirror

Remembering life in the glory days of smoking

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at car dealership in Campbell River turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

WATCH: Cougar saunters through Metchosin yard

Spring cougar sighting caught on camera

Esquimalt-based HMCS Regina makes third drug bust in two weeks

Ship seized hashish and heroin in Indian Ocean

Temporary CCTV cameras added around downtown Victoria

Cameras go up Saturday for big Sunday events

Victoria street corner could house public berry patch

The James Bay Neighborhood Association is hoping to offer berries locals

Busy day for passengers on BC Ferries

First two sailings from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay full Thursday morning

Stuck in the muck in a stolen truck

Oceanside RCMP nab suspect after call from Errington logging contractor

Canadian Coast Guard breaks ground on permanent search and rescue station in Victoria

Victoria-based SAR will do all rescues in local harbour and parts of the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Victoria council looks to self-impose carbon tax on staff airfare

A new carbon pricing fee would put additional funds into the city’s Climate Action Reserve

University mourns student who died in B.C. canoeing accident

Andrew Milner, 19, was in his second year with the University of Calgary’s basketball program

Most Read