The attorney for the nurse whose DNA was matched with the baby of an incapacitated woman at a long-term health-care facility says there is still no proof his client raped the victim.
Nathan Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse, was charged Wednesday with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse, according to court records. The woman, who has been intellectually and mentally incapacitated after an accident at age three, gave birth to a boy in late December. Immediately after the surprise birth, police worked to find the person who sexually assaulted her.
"We owed this arrest to the victim. We owed this arrest to the newest member of our community — that innocent baby," Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams told the Associated Press.
After authorities ordered all of the men who worked at HealthCare facility submit to DNA tests, they determined Sutherland, 36, was a match to the baby. He then declined to speak with police and invoked his Fifth Amendment rights, reported the AP.
Sutherland’s bail was set to a $500,000 cash-only bond.
Defense attorney David Gregan asked for a lower bond because Sutherland didn't have a criminal record. He said his client is a family man with four young children.
"There's no direct evidence that Mr. Sutherland has committed these acts," Gregan told reporters. "I know at this point there's DNA. But he will have a right to his own DNA expert."
Investigators said Sutherland treated the victim and spent a lot of time with her. They believe Sutherland raped the patient sometime between February and April.
A former neighbor, Esella Burr, said she lived next to Sutherland, his wife and four children for more than five years. She was in disbelief that Sutherland, whom she often saw going to church, could commit such a heinous crime.
"I can't believe it," Burr said. "He told me he was a nurse and he liked his job."
Court records indicate his wife filed for divorce six weeks before the victim gave birth.
Hacienda officials said Sutherland, who was fired by the company, passed an extensive background check and they are "troubled beyond words."
"Once again, we offer an apology and send our deepest sympathies to the client and her family, to the community and to our agency partners at every level," Hacienda said in a statement.
(Photo: Fox News via Maricopa County Jail)
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