PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Phoenix police announced Wednesday that they have arrested a suspect on sexual assault charges after a patient gave birth at a long-term healthcare facility.
[SPECIAL SECTION: Hacienda Healthcare investigation]
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said the suspect, 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland, is a licensed practical nurse employed at Hacienda HealthCare who was responsible for the patient's care during the time of the assault.
According to court documents, the victim is described as a "quadriplegic in a non-responsive state of consciousness."
Sgt. Tommy Thompson said police obtained a DNA sample from Sutherland with a court order. The DNA was tested and it was determined on Tuesday, Jan. 22 that Sutherland's DNA matched the baby's.
Sutherland was then arrested and booked into jail Wednesday morning on one count of sexual assault and one count of abuse of a vulnerable adult.
Hacienda HealthCare said Sutherland had worked as an LPN at the facility since 2012.
"Before he started work with Hacienda, he underwent extensive background checks, including an extended criminal history search; a search of multiple government registries, including sex offender registries and Arizona Department of Economic Security and Child Protective Services registries; and checks of his personal references," according to a Wednesday evening statement released by Hacienda HealthCare. "The state issued Sutherland his Fingerprint Clearance Card on March 14, 2012. His nursing license is current and in good standing."
The facility also said Sutherland completed a physical and a drug screening before starting work at Hacienda HealthCare.
According to a "planning worksheet" provided to Arizona's Family by an inside source, Sutherland wanted to take leadership classes and start a program to become an RN. That document was submitted to Hacienda HealthCare in July 2018. The patient he is accused of raping would have been roughly four months pregnant.
[APP USERS: Click here to see Sutherland's 'planning worksheet']
Hacienda HealthCare went on to say that they fired Sutherland the moment they found out that he was arrested.
"Assigned to the Intermediate Care Facility – Intellectually Disabled unit since 2014, Sutherland worked his last shift on January 20, 2019," according to the facility's Wednesday evening statement.
Hacienda HealthCare's full statement:
"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."
Hacienda HealthCare's second statement:
"Nathan Sutherland worked as a licensed practical nurse with Hacienda beginning in 2012.
"Before he started work with Hacienda, he underwent extensive background checks, including an extended criminal history search; a search of multiple government registries, including sex offender registries and Arizona Department of Economic Security and Child Protective Services registries; and checks of his personal references. The state issued Sutherland his Fingerprint Clearance Card on March 14, 2012. His nursing license is current and in good standing.
"Additionally, Sutherland was subjected to a pre-employment physical examination and drug screening.
"Sutherland was terminated this morning, immediately upon Hacienda learning of his arrest. Assigned to the Intermediate Care Facility – Intellectually Disabled unit since 2014, Sutherland worked his last shift on January 20, 2019."
Angela Gomez, the mother of a 27-year-old Hacienda patient who has been cared for by Sutherland from time to time, could hardly believe he was the suspect arrested in the case.
“He was very loving, very compassionate. Or he pretended to be. And I really trusted him," she said. "Never in my wildest dreams would I think that he would be the suspect that the PD was looking for. I suspected others, but I was wrong, and he fooled everybody.”
Though she says Sutherland worked the night shift when not as many people were around, she wasn't sure of the extent of his contact with her son. Wednesday, she was at Hacienda to get her son tested for STDs. The facility sent letters to patients' guardians recommending they get the tests done (on Hacienda's dime).
“I want him to spend every day of his life in prison. That’s what a monster like him deserves," Gomez said.
The victim's family and their lawyer, John Micheaels, released the following statement after Sutherland's arrest:
"The family and I are aware of the recent arrest of a Hacienda employee by the Phoenix Police Department. At this time, neither the family nor I wish to comment any further on this matter."
Sutherland appeared in court Wednesday morning where a judge ordered a $500,000 cash only bond, adhering to the state's request.
The state asked for HIV testing but the judge ruled it was not possible at this time.
According to Sutherland's lawyer, he has no prior record and has lived in Arizona since 1993. He says that there is no evidence in this case besides the DNA collected by the Phoenix Police Department. His lawyer is asking for an independent DNA test.
Sutherland's next court date is set for Jan. 30 at 8:30 a.m.