After an arrest in the case of a seriously disabled patient who became pregnant and gave birth, relatives of patients at Hacienda HealthCare are concerned about the possibility that the nurse accused of sexual assault may have had more victims.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Nathan Sutherland, 36, was arrested on Tuesday after a DNA sample obtained under court order linked him to the baby delivered by a severely incapacitated patient on December 29, prompting a rape investigation at the Arizona nursing facility.
Sutherland was reportedly one of the victim’s primary caregivers, and continued to work at the facility for more than nine months after allegedly raping and impregnating the 29-year-old woman, who has severe mental and physical disabilities. He was terminated just after his arrest this week.
AZFamily.com reports that officials at the nursing facility have volunteered to pay for STD testing of all patients at Hacienda HealthCare, and have recommended that families and guardians of patients have their loved ones tested.
A woman with a 27-year-old son at Hacienda HealthCare told AZFamily.com that she was shocked to learn of Sutherland’s arrest.
“He was very loving, very compassionate. Or he pretended to be. And I really trusted him,” Angela Gomez told the news station. “Never in my wildest dreams would I think that he would be the suspect that the PD was looking for. I suspected others, but I was wrong, and he fooled everybody.”
According to CBS News, Gomez said in an interview that her son seemed to be afraid of something — or someone.
“He’s afraid. Not all the time but every once in a while, and he’s expressed that,” Gomez said.
“We’ve asked him why and he’s said he’s afraid of the monster, is what he says. And I’ve said, ‘What’s the monster’s name?’ but my son never says the name of the person he’s afraid of.”
Another parent of a patient, Karina Cesna, told CBS News that she moved her daughter out of Hacienda HealthCare after learning that the victim had become pregnant.
Sutherland’s lawyer David Gregan appears to be preparing a challenge of the DNA testing that implicated his client in the sexual assault.
“I know at this point there’s DNA. But he will have a right to his own DNA expert,” Gregan told CBS News.
Sutherland is being held on $500,000 cash bail, and is next due in court on January 30.