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Court sets Phoenix trial date for ex-Hacienda nurse Nathan Sutherland

PHOENIX – A trial date has been scheduled early next year for a nurse charged with raping an incapacitated patient who later gave birth at a long-term care center in Phoenix.

The court case against Nathan Sutherland was set to begin at 8 a.m. on Feb. 25, according to the Maricopa County Superior Court calendar.

Sutherland pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual abuse and abuse of a vulnerable adult at Hacienda Healthcare. He was arrested in January.

The suspect’s DNA sample was linked to that of the 30-year-old patient’s baby boy, born Dec. 29.

The patient had been living at the skilled-nursing facility near 16th Street and Baseline Road since 1992.

Care workers and other employees said they had no idea the woman was pregnant until she began going into labor.

Sutherland was fired and gave up his nursing license after his arrest.

The facility became the subject of intense state reviews; the criminal investigation ultimately led to Gov. Doug Ducey signing legislation designed to increase protection for vulnerable people in group homes.

But the governor also wanted the site to stay open to keep patients from being forced to relocate.

“We’ve had people who have spent their whole life in this facility, so it’s not so much about shutting this place down because even their families don’t want them moved or have to be relocated,” Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos in June.

“What they want is a safe environment where they can be cared for, and that’s what we’re working on.”

Hacienda’s longtime chief executive, Bill Timmons, resigned shortly after police said they were investigating.

One of the woman’s doctors also resigned and another was suspended.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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