PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – The family of the woman who was raped while she was a patient at Hacienda Healthcare and gave birth to a baby boy without anybody there ever knowing she was pregnant is suing her doctors, two medical companies and the state. The baby was born on Dec. 29, 2018, and Arizona's Family has been following the story ever since.
The family's lawsuit was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court on Dec. 24. Arizona is the first defendant named. Dr. Phillip Gear Jr. and his wife, Just 4 Kids Pediatrics, Dr. Than Diep Nguyen and his wife, and Internal Medicine Consultants.
Gear, who surrendered his medical license in November, was the longtime physician of the 30-year-old who gave birth. He worked at Hacienda Healthcare from 1992, when the victim was 3 years old, until September 2018. According to the Medical Board, Gear failed to perform required monthly physical exams on the victim and did not complete her annual mental health assessment.
Nguyen's license was suspended for a time, but the Arizona Medical Board dismissed the case against him in October. He became the woman's primary care doctor in September, roughly three months before her son was born. "Pregnancy was inconceivable and not suspected by anybody that took care of her, including up to the day before delivery," he told the board in October. "She was in a vegetative state on a ventilator with no way to communicate. … I was truly shocked and upset when I heard that my patient was sexually assaulted. This was a horrendous event."
The two listed businesses, Just 4 Kids Pediatrics and Internal Medicine Consultants employed Gear and Nguyen respectively.
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The woman at the heart of this case became a resident patient at Hacienda Healthcare in September 1992, when she was a toddler, and was there until she gave birth in December 2018.
According to the lawsuit, she "was repeatedly sexually assaulted and exploited and ultimately impregnated while a resident and patient at the Hacienda Healthcare ICF-ID." The suit also notes that in May 2002, "a Hacienda representative reported the possible sexual abuse of five (5) disabled residents at Hacienda to the Phoenix Police Department." The woman was believed to be one of them and was referred to in a police report.
Her parents were also notified and requested that only female staff care for their daughter, the suit says. Her mom was told that request "would be abided and honored." According to the lawsuit, male staffers were always supposed to be accompanied by a female staffer. That didn't happen.
The suit says Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse, started working at Hacienda in January 2012. Within days, the woman was assigned to him. Court documents mention Hacienda records show that Sutherland "provided care for [the woman], by himself and unaccompanied by female staff, on hundreds of occasions." Police arrested Sutherland after a DNA test reportedly showed him to be the baby's father.
The suit says the woman "would not have been sexually assaulted and raped while a patient at resident at Hacienda" if Gear had "complied with the standard of care, including … take proper steps to ensure [she] was not cared for by male care provider staff …" and "performed the required, appropriate examinations …."
When the woman was transferred to the care of Nguyen 90 days before giving birth, he attributed her weight gain and a chart notation about a large mass in her left abdomen to constipation and ordered treatment for that condition.
After the woman gave birth, medical records indicated a doctor's belief "that repeat coitus has occurred …" and that some area of her body "appeared to have suffered prolonged trauma not related to birth."
According to the suit, the listed defendants are responsible for what happened to the woman. It says she "experienced repeated sexual assaults that caused permanent scarring, excruciating pain …, and devastating emotional harm from being violated with nor defense mechanisms and in the one and only sanctuary in her life …."
The suit, which seeks compensatory and punitive damages and demands a trial by jury, accuses the state of negligence. It alleges medical negligence on the parts of Gear, Nguyen and the two medical facilities.The notice of claim, which is the first step in an Arizona lawsuit, was filed in May.