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Hacienda suspect Nathan Sutherland pleaded not guilty to sex assault

(MCSO photo)

PHOENIX – The nurse charged with sexually assaulting an incapacitated woman who later gave birth at a Hacienda HealthCare facility in Phoenix pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Nathan Sutherland, 36, was arrested Jan. 23, after authorities said his DNA matched that of a baby born in December.

The unidentified 29-year-old mother is severely disabled and could not have given consent to relations, police said.

Sutherland was charged with sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult.

He will appear in court next on March 19 for an initial pretrial conference.

Sutherland’s attorney has argued there was no direct evidence linking Sutherland to the rape.

Employees at the facility near 16th Street and Baseline Road said they didn’t know the woman was pregnant until she went into labor.

Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse, had been one of the woman’s caregivers during the time she became pregnant.

He surrendered his license within two days of his arrest.

At the time of his arrest, Sgt. Tommy Thompson told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos that no additional suspects or victims had been identified but the investigation would continue.

Company CEO Bill Timmons resigned in early January after the baby’s birth became public knowledge.

Gov. Doug Ducey has said Hacienda’s top leadership, including the board, “needs to be completely replaced” and “terminated immediately.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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