ARIZONA NEWS

Hacienda rape suspect pleads guilty to 2 abuse charges

Sep 2, 2021, 1:13 PM | Updated: 3:29 pm

(AP Pool Photo)...

PHOENIX — A former nurse accused of sexually assaulting an incapacitated woman who later gave birth at a Phoenix long-term care facility pleaded guilty to two charges on Thursday.

Nathan Sutherland pleaded guilty to sexual abuse and abuse of a vulnerable adult in relation to the 2018 incident at the Hacienda Healthcare facility.

The sentencing range for the plea agreement is 5 1/4 years to 10 years for the first charge and lifetime probation for the second charge.

The trial had been scheduled to start Sept. 16. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 4.

Sutherland was arrested January 2019, almost a month after the pregnancy was discovered when a Hacienda employee was changing the garments of the victim and noticed the patient was in the process of delivering a child. Employees told police that they had no idea the woman was pregnant.

Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse, had initially pleaded not guilty. He was fired by Hacienda after his arrest and has since given up his nursing license.

Police have said Sutherland’s DNA matched a sample taken from the woman’s son. The victim’s mother is the boy’s guardian.

The case triggered reviews by state agencies, highlighted safety concerns for patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated, and prompted the resignations of Hacienda’s chief executive and one of the victim’s doctors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Hacienda rape suspect pleads guilty to 2 abuse charges