Suspect Nathan Sutherland

Suspect Nathan Sutherland

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Police have made an arrest in the sexual assault of a patient at a Phoenix long-term healthcare facility.

[WATCH: Phoenix police, mayor announce Hacienda HealthCare arrest]

In a press conference Wednesday morning, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams along with Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams announced that 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland has been arrested on sexual assault charges.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Hacienda HealthCare investigation]

Williams said Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse at Hacienda HealthCare, was responsible for providing care for the victim at the time the sexual assault occurred. 

The charges come from the investigation into the facility after a woman who was originally reported to be in a vegetative state gave birth late last month. The family has since clarified that she is not in a vegetative state but has "significant intellectual disabilities as a result of seizures very early in her childhood."

Sgt. Tommy Thompson with the Phoenix Police Department said Sutherland was connected to the case through DNA. On Tuesday, Jan. 22, investigators collected DNA with the help of a court order, and determined that Sutherland's DNA matched the baby.

Sutherland was booked into jail on one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse, both felonies. 

"We have worked virtually nonstop every day, every night, 7 days a week trying to solve and resolve this case," Williams said. ''We owed this arrest to the victim. We owed this arrest to the newest member of our community, that innocent baby."

Sutherland made his first court appearance Wednesday morning.

[RELATED: Hacienda suspect appears in court for first time]

During his brief appearance, the state asked that he submit to an HIV test and that he be held on a $500,000 bond. 

The judge ordered that he be held on a $500,000 cash-only bond, adhering to the state's request, but ruled that an HIV test was not possible at this time. 

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. Once again, we offer an apology and send our deepest sympathies to the client and her family, to the community and to our agency partners at every level.

Nathan Sutherland, who held a current state of Arizona practical nurse’s license and who had undergone an extensive background check upon hiring – was terminated from Hacienda the moment our leadership team learned of his arrest. As we have since the first minutes of this police investigation, the Hacienda team will continue to cooperate with investigators from multiple agencies in every way possible.

We will do everything in our power to ensure justice in this case.

In the past two weeks, the Hacienda team has increased security measures to ensure the safety of all our patients. We will continue to do so. We also will continue to review and improve what is already an in-depth vetting process for caregivers at Hacienda. We will not tolerate any mistreatment of a Hacienda patient, nor will we stop until every Hacienda patient is as safe as we can make them.

Sutherland has been living in a Gilbert apartment complex for the past few weeks, and his neighbors said they were shocked. 

"It's sickening," said neighbor Joey Vega. "I think that man deserves to be put away forever. It's so sad to hear what happened." 

Court records show Sutherland was arrested at his lawyer's office, but Vega says he saw police closing in Tuesday. 

"They came to his apartment, a whole bunch of them," Vega said. "They surrounded the place response." 

[WATCH: Neighbors stunned by accusations arrest]

Arizona's Family first broke the story less than a week after the woman gave birth to a baby boy on Dec. 29, 2018.

[ORIGINAL STORY: Woman in vegetative state gives birth at Hacienda Healthcare in Phoenix]

The 29-year-old woman had been a patient at Hacienda Healthcare since she was a toddler.

We learned Tuesday that the woman's primary care doctor, Dr. Thanh Nguyen, was suspended by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System on Jan. 15.

[READ MORE: Primary care doctor for woman who gave birth at Hacienda HealthCare identified, suspended]

We know from the 911 call a nurse made when the baby was born that he was in some distress. He has since improved.

"The baby, I am told, is doing good," Thompson said. "I would just say that we can't always chose how we come into this life but what we can chose to do as a community is to love this child. and that's what we have the opportunity to do."


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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