A former Arizona nurse who impregnated and abused a long-term care patient has been jailed for 10 years for sexual assault.
Nathan Sutherland, who worked at a Hacienda HealthCare facility in Phoenix, in the United States, was handed the maximum sentence allowed under the sexual assault charge.
He was also sentenced to lifetime supervised probation and will have to register as a sex offender, KPNX of Phoenix reported.
The abuse of the woman, who cannot speak and only has the ability to move her limbs, head and neck, was only discovered after she gave birth in December 2018 at the care facility.
The then 29-year-old had been a patient at the premises since the age of three after she was left with significant intellectual disabilities as a result of seizures early in her childhood.
“It’s hard to imagine a more vulnerable adult than the victim in this case,” Superior Court judge Margaret LaBianca said at sentencing.
In January 2019, Sutherland was arrested and charged after DNA evidence tied him to the child, who is now cared for by the victim’s mother.
As a result, he was fired and pleaded guilty to sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse in September.
At his sentencing, Sutherland apologised to the victim and her family, saying: “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.”
In a written statement, Maricopa County attorney Allister Adel said Sutherland’s sentence was just and appropriate.
“This sentence honours the wishes of the victims in this case,” Mr Adel said.
The family did not wish to comment following Sutherland’s sentencing.
The chief executive of Hacienda HealthCare at the time of the assault, Bill Timmons, resigned after the woman gave birth.
“We are relieved that he will never again torment another innocent human being,” the company’s current chief executive Perry Petrilli, said in a statement regarding Sutherland.
The state of Arizona, Hacienda and others, settled for millions of dollars in lawsuits filed by the woman’s family.
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