Nathan Sutherland has been arrested and accused of the rape of a woman who was said to have been in a vegetative state at the Hacienda Healthcare facility in Arizona. Sutherland, 36, is a licensed practical nurse who had been assigned to care for the woman, 29, who gave birth in December 2018. Officials made the announcement of the arrest on January 23.
It had earlier been reported that investigators had looked for DNA samples from all of the male employees of the facility. On January 22, they got a hit after matching the baby’s DNA to Sutherland’s. The suspect’s DNA was not volunteered and investigators were forced to get a court order to compel him to give a sample. That same day, police established a probable cause to arrest Sutherland.
Sutherland was booked into Maricopa County Jail on January 22 just after 3 p.m., according to county records. He has been released on bail on a cash-only bond of $500,000. While on bail, Sutherland is required to wear an electronic bracelet. The state has asked for an HIV test to be performed on Sutherland. The suspect is being represented by attorney David Gregan.
The victim’s family said that reports that the woman is in a vegetative state are inaccurate, she has severe intellectual problems but has the ability to move. CBS News, quoting from a report prior to the victim giving birth, referred to her as “an incapacitated adult.” Her baby is reported to be doing “quite well.”
Phoenix Police Department Chief Jeri Williams told the media, via KTAR, after Sutherland’s arrest, “The investigation was, and still is, the highest priority of our police department.” Sutherland’s arrest was announced by Chief Williams, along with Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams. Police have not said if Sutherland is suspected of other sexual assaults, according to Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson. Thompson said of the victim, “We may not know how many times this occurred.”
Chief Williams said while announcing the arrest of Sutherland, “From the minute we first became aware of the crime, we have virtually worked non-stop seven days a week to resolve this case.” Police believe that Sutherland acted alone.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sutherland Was in a Christian Rapping Duo With His Sister
Sutherland was in a Christian rap duo with his sister, Toisi. The pair went by the name SLS or Sleeplessouljaz. In the above video, the pair explain that they were adopted by parents in Arizona when Sutherland was 7 years old and his sister was 4 years old. They had grown up in an impoverished orphanage in Haiti, where Sutherland described a bowl of rice as being a treasure. Records show that Sutherland, who has no criminal record in Arizona, has lived in the state since 1993. Sutherland and his sister became orphaned after their parents split up in Haiti and their mother could not look after them.
A bio for the pair says that the pair worshipped under Pastor Marie Mosley of the Faith Center West Family Church in Mesa, Arizona. That profile says that Sutherland was forced to learn their “family business” and thus was not given much time to socialize. In the video, Sutherland and his sister say that they were forbidden from listening to rap music, even it was Christian rap. Despite this, in 2003, Sutherland and his sister decided to form their rap duo.
The pair’s first album was titled, “Certified Fake Face” and was released in 2009. Sutherland was quoted as saying, “It took many years to birth (record) our 1st album, but its finally here and it was worth every dime, sweat and tears.” In 2011, the pair tweeted that their second album was forthcoming. That account has been inactive since November 2014.
The group’s last concert occurred in March 2014 in Buckeye, Arizona.
2. Sutherland Had a Transitional Housing Program to ‘Show Christ’s Unconditional Love’ for Those in Need
Online records show that Sutherland started a transitional housing program along with other family members. The article of incorporation for Life in You, a charity, was to “show Christ’s unconditional love by responding to the spiritual and physical needs of the homeless, Development Disabled Individuals” as well as orphans in the Phoenix-area. The charity was registered in 2009, with Sutherland named on the board of directors. A listing for the charity as of January 2019 refers to it as “inactive.”
3. Sutherland Has Been Described as a ‘Caring Dad’
Speaking to Fox Phoenix’s Nicole Garcia, Sutherland’s neighbors said that he is a father to four children, and that he is a “caring dad, nice person.” The Associated Press quotes a neighbor of Sutherland’s, Esella Burr, as saying she lived next door to the suspect for more than five years. Burr said, “I can’t believe it. He told me he was a nurse and he liked his job.” Burr added that she would often see the family headed to church.
CBS Phoenix reports that prior to the victim giving birth, Sutherland’s wife had filed for divorce. That station says that the divorce proceedings were initiated on December 5. His wife had claimed the couple’s marriage “was broken beyond repair.” That same report mentions that Sutherland and his soon-to-be ex-wife ran a catering company that catered weddings and business functions.
Sutherland’s attorney, David Gregan, told the court, “There’s no direct evidence that Mr. Sutherland has committed these acts. I know at this point there’s DNA. But he will have a right to his own DNA expert.”
4. Sutherland Is Accused of Sexual Assault & Abusing a Person in a Vulnerable State
Sutherland is facing one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse. Sutherland has worked at the facility since 2014 and he received his license as a practical nurse in 2011. Fox Phoenix’s Danielle Miller reports that Sutherland passed a background check when he was hired and that he has since been terminated from his position at the facility. Sutherland has been licensed as a clinical nursing assistant since 2005, reports AZ Central.
In a statement, via NBC Phoenix’s Bianca Buono, Hacidena said they will “continue to cooperate with investigators from multiple agencies in every way possible. We will do everything in our power to ensure justice in this case.”
As a result of the scandal, the Hacienda Healthcare facility CEO, Bill Timmons, resigned on January 7. A week later, the victim’s primary care doctor, Dr. Thanh Nguyen, was suspended by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.
Employees had maintained during the investigation that the had no idea the victim was pregnant. Her last physical was in April 2018. The leaked 911 call saw the dispatcher ask, “Does she know how far along she was or anything?” The caller replies, “We have no idea. This was a complete surprise. We were not expecting this.” The caller can then be heard rejoicing as she hears that the baby was born and is breathing.
The Hacienda facility has hired Rick Romley, the former Maricopa County Attorney, to lead an internal investigation into the facility, reports AZ Central.
The story, which broke earlier in January 2019, made headlines across the world as the woman, who was in a said to be in a vegetative state, gave birth on December 29, 2018. The Arizona Republic reported in the days before Sutherland’s arrest, that the victim was not in a coma as previously reported. She does have “significant intellectual disabilities.” The woman cannot speak but does move from time to time. The woman is a tribal member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. She has needed round-the-clock care since the age of 3.
A lawyer for the family told the media earlier in January, “The family obviously is outraged, traumatized and in shock by the abuse and neglect of their daughter at Hacienda HealthCare. The family would like me to convey that the baby boy has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for.” According to CBS News, the woman has a brain disorder, recurrent pneumonia, paralysis of the limbs as well as suffering from seizures. That family has not made any comment beyond acknowledging that they knew Nathan Sutherland had been arrested.
5. In 2012, Hacienda Healthcare Was Charging Patient’s Families $386,000 Per Year
CBS News reported on January 15 that Hacienda Healthcare had been investigated previously over alleged financial fraud. Timothy Jeffries, the former head of Arizona’s main social services agency, said that he asked Governor Doug Ducey to shut the facility down in 2015. Jeffries said that the facility was charging patients’ families $386,000 per year in 2012 at a time when the national average was $134,000 per year. The investigation into the facility ended in 2017 due to a lack of evidence.
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