In a shocking incident that has garnered national attention, a patient in a vegetative state at Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix, Arizona, unexpectedly gave birth in 2018. The case has led to significant investigations, legal actions, and changes in the management of long-term care facilities in Arizona.
Background of the Case
Hacienda HealthCare is a private nonprofit facility that has been catering to patients whose care is funded through Medicaid. The victim, a non-verbal woman with intellectual disabilities, had been under the care of Hacienda HealthCare since 1992. In a horrifying turn of events, she was found to have been raped multiple times by Nathan Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse at the facility. The abuse came to light when the woman, who was incapacitated and had been in a vegetative state for years, gave birth to a baby boy on December 29, 2018. The staff at Hacienda were unaware of the victim's pregnancy until she began the process of childbirth.
Nathan Sutherland's Arrest and Conviction
Following the incident, an extensive investigation was launched to identify the perpetrator. DNA evidence played a crucial role in the case. The DNA of the newborn baby matched that of Nathan Sutherland, confirming his involvement in the crime. Sutherland, who had worked as a licensed practical nurse at Hacienda HealthCare since 2012, was subsequently arrested. Initially, he pleaded not guilty to the charges. However, as the evidence mounted, Sutherland later pleaded guilty to sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Additionally, he was credited 1,044 days for the time he had already spent in jail.
Repercussions for Hacienda HealthCare
The incident had severe repercussions for Hacienda HealthCare. The facility had been unlicensed by the state for over two decades before the incident. Following the case, lawmakers in Arizona reversed their stance, and legislation was passed requiring state licensing and inspections for intermediate care facilities like Hacienda. The CEO of Hacienda HealthCare at the time, William J. Timmons, resigned in the wake of the scandal. The facility faced further scrutiny when maggots were found on another patient, leading to the revocation of its license due to negligence. However, with a new acting CEO appointed, Hacienda HealthCare regained its license on May 1.
Legal Actions and Settlements
The family of the victim filed a lawsuit against the State of Arizona, accusing it of being “grossly negligent” in monitoring and overseeing Hacienda's operations. They reached a settlement with Arizona for $7.5 million. Additionally, a $15 million settlement was approved for a lawsuit filed by the family against Dr. Phillip Gear Jr., the physician who had cared for the victim. Dr. Gear, who had treated the victim since she was three years old, faced criticism for failing to notice the signs of the victim's pregnancy.
The baby born as a result of the rape is currently five years old and is reported to be doing well. He is being cared for by the victim's parents. The victim, on the other hand, has been moved to a different care facility in Phoenix.
What happened to the baby born at Hacienda HealthCare?
The baby is now five years old and is being cared for by the victim's parents.
What happened at Hacienda HealthCare?
A patient in a vegetative state was sexually assaulted and gave birth. Nathan Sutherland, a nurse at the facility, was found guilty of the crime.
What was Hacienda nurse sentenced to?
Nathan Sutherland was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the crime.
Who was the nurse who impregnated vegetative patients?