A male nurse has been arrested on suspicion of rape after a woman who has been in a coma for 14 years gave birth last month.
Phoenix Police announced that Nathan Sutherland, 36, who was employed at the Hacienda HealthCare centre in Phoenix, Arizona, was arrested today after his DNA “matched the baby”.
Chief Jeri Williams said the hospital worker was responsible for caring for the patient during the time she was sexually assaulted.
The 29-year-old mother was a patient at the 60-bed care facility and has been in a vegetative state for more than a decade after nearly drowning.
Sutherland has been booked into Marciopa Jail on one charge of sexual assault and one charge of abusing a vulnerable adult.
Chief Williams said: “The investigation was, and still is, the highest priority of our police department.”
Speaking at a press conference, Sgt. Tommy Thompson said: “We may not know how many times this occurred.
“We cant always choose the way we come into this life, but this community can choose to love this baby. I’m told the baby is fine.”
Police said Sutherland was a licensed practical nurse and had worked at the facility since 2011.
He did not give an interview when arrested.
Police said the baby was near or at full term and is doing “quite well” and is believed to have been released from hospital.
An investigation was launched after the woman unexpectedly went into labour last month.
In a bid to identify the child’s father, search warrants were issued to obtain DNA samples from men working at the Hacienda HealthCare centre. earlier this month.
Police said Nathan Sutherland was arrested on the basis of DNA evidence.
Sgt Tommy Thompson previously told reporters: “As a police officer for 35 years, this is a case that even shocks my conscience, to think that something like this could occur.”
He added: “She was not in a position to give consent to any of this. This was a helpless victim who was sexually assaulted.”
The woman is a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and a solicitor representing her family said the baby “has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for”.
While police said the woman is in a vegetative state, John Micheaels, the family’s lawyer, said she is not able to speak but can respond to sound, make facial gestures and has some ability to move her limbs, head and neck.
Two doctors who were also involved in the woman’s care have since left the facility.
The CEO of Hacienda HealthCare Bill Timmons resigned shortly after the investigation began.