A former Arizona nurse has been sentenced to a decade behind bars for sexually assaulting and impregnating a non-verbal woman in a vegetive state for whom he was supposed to be caring.
Nathan Dorceus Sutherland, 39, was sentenced on Thursday to 10 years of prison, 12 News in Phoenix reports. It comes three months after the former health care worker at Phoenix’s Hacienda Healthcare pleaded guilty to sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse of a disabled care home patient; 10 years was the maximum punishment called for under his plea deal.
After his release, Sutherland will have a lifetime supervised probation and must register as a sex offender.
"It’s hard to imagine a more vulnerable adult than the victim in this case,” Superior Court Judge Margaret LaBianca said at Thursday’s sentencing, NBC News reports.
A fellow healthcare worker at the location discovered the incapacitated patient in the midst of giving birth in 2018. Employees at the facility were unaware that the patient was pregnant. She gave birth to a baby boy.
Sutherland, who supposedly provided medical services to the woman between 2012 and 2018, was arrested after authorities concluded his DNA matched that of the baby.
"For nearly three years, our team has cooperated in every way possible with law enforcement and prosecutors in the Sutherland case,” Perry Petrilli, Hacienda's current CEO, said in a statement following the sentencing. “We are relieved that he will never again torment another innocent human being.”
Bill Timmons, the who was the CEO of Hacienda HealthCare at the time of the incident, resigned after the victim gave birth. He was recently sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to fraud charges, 12 News reports.
The state of Arizona, Hacienda and others settled a lawsuit for millions of dollars with the woman’s family.
Before he was sentenced, Sutherland apologized to the victim and her family.
“To the victim, I am sorry,” Sutherland said. “You didn’t deserve to be hurt no matter what was going on in my personal life and the demons I was fighting. I had no right to put you through that.”
The victim had been at Hacienda for 26 years — she was transferred after the child’s birth. Her medical conditions are the result of a brain disorder that caused both motor and cognitive impairments.