Docs Say Comatose Woman Who Gave Birth In Facility Was Likely Pregnant More Than Once

The ex-staffer accused of sexually assaulting her has also now reportedly appealed an order for HIV-testing.

May 28, 2019
Mug shot of Nathan Sutherland [Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office]

Photo by: Mug shot of Nathan Sutherland [Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office]

Mug shot of Nathan Sutherland [Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office]

By: Mike McPadden

PHOENIX, AZ — Court documents filed by the family of a woman who gave birth while in a vegetative state at a care facility reportedly reveal that the doctors who examined her believe she had likely been sexually assaulted numerous times and had possibly been pregnant more than once.

According to People magazine, a notice of claim for a proposed $45 million settlement filed against the state of Arizona reports that examining physicians determined the pregnancy was a “repeat parous event,” meaning that it had happened at least once before.

The filing also quotes Dr. Sharon Cooper, who said she observed “significant scarring” in the victim’s genital region, which reportedly might indicate the woman was “violently sexually assaulted and violated on multiple occasions.”

The court document also reportedly claims that the comatose woman “experienced severe physical and emotional trauma as a result of likely months, if not years, of repeated violent rape and assault.”

According to the filing, “Although [the victim] could not ask for help or verbalize her fear, in all probability [she] would have recognized the body odor and voice of her assailant each time he was in her room, which likely caused her severe emotional distress and fear that she was going to be sexually violated again.”

Furthermore, the filing alleges, staffers at Hacienda HealthCare, where the victim resided, misdiagnosed the pregnancy on at least 83 occasions and failed to give the woman “any medication to ease the pain of pregnancy and/or delivery.”

Instead, the court document claims, workers noticed the mass in the victim’s distended stomach and allegedly treated what they thought was weight gain by administering laxatives and reducing her calorie intake.

The case came to light in November 2018 after the woman, who was 29 at the time, gave birth. The child is reportedly healthy and has been placed in the custody of the victim’s family.

Following the delivery, authorities reportedly collected DNA samples from workers at Hacienda HealthCare. After an alleged DNA match, police said they arrested Nathan Sutherland, a 37-year-old nurse who investigators say had access to the victim.

Authorities charged Sutherland with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse. Sutherland has reportedly pleaded not guilty to both charges, but legal documents indicate he has also given up his nursing license.

In March 2019, NBC News and other sources reported that Sutherland refused to submit to an HIV test. On May 21, Sutherland reportedly filed an official appeal against a court order demanding he be tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Edwin Molina, Sutherland’s attorney, reportedly stated the order should be overturned, because no evidence exists to suggest his client has any such illnesses and that it would violate the suspect’s constitutional rights regarding unreasonable searches and seizures.

Prosecutors have reportedly countered by invoking an Arizona state law that requires anyone arrested for sexual-assault crimes to be tested for STDs and that the results will be made known to any victims.

The case continues.

Read more: People, NBC News, AZ Family

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