Phoenix chief not ruling out more charges, victims in Hacienda assault

Jan 24, 2019, 7:58 AM | Updated: 10:36 am
(AP File Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
(AP File Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP File Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — The arrest of a suspect who allegedly sexually assaulted an incapacitated patient at a Hacienda HealthCare facility in Phoenix could lead to more developments in the case.

Despite this week’s arrest of Nathan Sutherland, a 36-year-old licensed practical nurse, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said she is not ruling out the possibility of more charges or victims.

“That’s not outside the realm of possibility, but we’re going to go where the investigation leads us,” Williams told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday.

“I have full faith and confidence in our investigators. They got us to this point so far and we want to continue on.”

Williams announced Wednesday that Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse, was arrested this week after DNA linked him to the baby of a 29-year-old woman with “significant intellectual disabilities” who gave birth to a boy at the facility last month.

He is facing one count of sexual assault and one count of abusing a vulnerable adult.

Police initially described the woman as being in a vegetative state, but family attorney John Micheaels said although she cannot speak, she has some ability to move her limbs, head and neck, responds to sound and is able to make facial gestures.

Sutherland was responsible for caring for the victim during the time the alleged sexual assault occurred, police added. Investigators believe Sutherland assaulted the patient sometime between February and April.

The alleged sexual assault not only shocked the nation, but Williams herself, she said.

“I was horrified,” Williams said.

“The mere fact that our victim can’t speak for herself and then when you stretch that out to the fact where you have an innocent baby who didn’t have a say how he came into this world, it was horrifying.”

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Phoenix chief not ruling out more charges, victims in Hacienda assault