Former Hacienda nurse pleads guilty to sexually assaulting patient in vegetative state

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A former nurse at Hacienda Healthcare, a long-term care facility in Phoenix, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a female patient in a vegetative state who gave birth there in December 2018, court records show. 

Nathan Sutherland also pleaded guilty to vulnerable adult abuse Sept. 2. The charges carry a sentence of 5.25 to 10 years in prison, Jennifer Liewer, a spokesperson for the Maricopa County (Ariz.) Attorney's Office, said Sept. 2, according to the NBC News. His sentencing hearing is set for Nov. 4.

Mr. Sutherland was arrested in January 2019 and charged after DNA evidence matched him to the 29-year-old Hacienda patient's baby. He voluntarily surrendered his nursing license and no longer works at the facility.

"After more than 2½ years, all of us at Hacienda Healthcare are relieved that Nathan Sutherland has finally pleaded guilty to his awful offenses. We have cooperated in every way possible with law enforcement and investigators. ... Our hearts are with the victim and her family," Hacienda Healthcare told NBC affiliate KPNX.

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