The family of an incapacitated San Carlos rape victim has declined comment after Phoenix police arrested one of the nurses assigned to care for her.
Attorney John Micheaels, with the Phoenix-based firm of Beale, Micheaels, Slack and Shughart, issued a Jan. 23 statement on behalf of the victim’s family.
“The family and I are aware of the recent arrest of a Hacienda employee by the Phoenix Police Department. At this time, neither the family nor I wish to comment any further on this matter.”
Micheaels asked that the media honor her family’s wish for privacy.
On Tuesday, Jan. 22, Phoenix Police arrested 36-year-old Nathan Dorceus Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) responsible for providing care to the victim at the time the sexual assault occurred, said Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson, with the Public Affairs Bureau.
During the investigation, Phoenix detectives collected court-ordered DNA samples from the Hacienda facility’s male employees.
The evidence was sent to the department’s crime lab, which Thompson said, “worked tirelessly to compare those DNA samples with DNA from the victim’s baby.”
On Jan. 22, crime lab scientists determined that the sample obtained from Sutherland matched that of the baby, Thompson said.
Sutherland was then arrested and booked into Maricopa County Jail, charged with one count each of sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse, he said.
The investigation continues, with police still trying to determine how many times the victim had been assaulted, Thompson said.
Anyone with information concerning the case is encouraged to contact the department’s Violent Crimes Bureau at 602-262-6141. Those wishing to remain anonymous may call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS or 480-TESTIGO for Spanish.
According to court records, Sutherland’s initial appearance was held Jan. 23 in Maricopa County Superior Court, where a preliminary hearing was set for Friday, Feb. 1 (after press time).
On Dec. 29, 2018, the 29-year-old San Carlos woman, reportedly in a vegetative state more than a decade, became pregnant and gave birth at Hacienda del Sol, 1400 E. South Mountain Ave., in Phoenix.
Through their attorney, the victim’s parents issued a Jan. 22 statement explaining that their daughter is not in a coma, but rather has “significant intellectual disabilities as a result of seizures very early in her childhood.”
While their daughter does not speak, she has the ability to move her limbs, head and neck; responds to sound and is able to make facial gestures, Micheaels said.
“The important thing is that she is a beloved daughter, albeit with significant intellectual disabilities,” he said. “She has feelings, likes to be read to, enjoys soft music, and is capable of responding to people she is familiar with, especially family.”
At about 3:42 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, Phoenix police responded to a call about an infant who had coded at the long-term care facility.
Upon arrival, officers found that the “incapacitated woman” had delivered a baby, who was in distress. Both the woman and her baby were transported to a local hospital, where they were recovering, Thompson said at the time.
Given the circumstances of the case, detectives with the Phoenix PD’s Family Investigations Bureau immediately began a sexual assault investigation, he said.
According to media reports, longtime Hacienda HealthCare CEO William Timmons resigned Jan. 7.
For previous coverage, read the Jan. 16 edition of the Arizona Silver Belt.