Suit Filed Against State After Rape and Pregnancy of Incapacitated Woman

Lawyers for a young Arizona woman who was consistently raped and then impregnated by her nurse have filed a 54-page claim against the state seeking $45 million in damages. The 29-year-old woman was a patient and resident under the care of Hacienda Healthcare long-term care facility located in Phoenix. She has been nonverbal and intellectually disabled since the age of three after a drowning accident. Due to repeated sexual assault by a staff member, the woman became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy in December of 2018.  Shockingly, the claim also says the woman could have been pregnant before.

Hacienda Healthcare did publicly apologize for the incident and has promised to follow more robust hiring and training practices. The Arizona Department of Health Services has not yet released a comment regarding the case. 

A Heartbreaking Story to Follow

Levin & Perconti’s blog covered this story in early January when it first was released. Here is a brief recap:

  • The woman’s family confirmed that she is nonverbal and is intellectually disabled as a result of seizures that began when she was a toddler. Although she is nonverbal, she can move her extremities and head and neck and can show emotion through facial expressions.
  • Phoenix police arrested Nathan Sutherland, a 36-year-old male nurse who had been an employee of the facility and was responsible for providing nursing care to the victim. Sutherland became a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in 2011, and it appears that Hacienda has been his sole employer since. Before receiving his nursing certification, he worked as an aide for six years.
  • Police required genetic testing of every male employee of Hacienda after the victim gave birth. Sutherland initially attempted to forgo testing but was ultimately forced by police to cooperate. Upon learning of the DNA match, he was immediately fired and since been charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse.

Residents with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other cognitive difficulties are unable to consent to sexual activity. Those who lack the mental and/or physical ability to give consent and are found to have engaged in sexual activity are victims. Despite this clear law, cases of rape, assault, and sexual abuse persist.

Fighting for Residents and Patients Who Have Been Sexually Assaulted

If you suspect or know of sexual abuse, assault, or rape of a loved one within a nursing home, hospital or other care setting, Levin & Perconti can help find answers and demand justice. With nearly three decades of experience, we have both the resources and proven results required to hold accountability over those responsible.

Contact us now for a free consultation: 312-332-2872 in Chicago, toll-free at 1-877-374-1417, or by completing our online case evaluation form.

Also read: Physical or Sexual Assault or Abuse in Nursing Homes