Nurse Nathan Sutherland pleads not guilty to abusing woman in vegetative state

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A nurse in Arizona has pleaded not guilty to raping a woman who has spent years in a vegetative state – after the woman unexpectedly gave birth.

The woman went into labour in the care facility where she had been a patient for two decades.

Nathan Sutherland, 36, has appeared in court wearing an orange jumpsuit with cuffs on his wrists and legs.

He had been working as a nurse at the care home in Phoenix, Arizona, since 2012.

Police collected DNA samples from all male staff at the home.

Maricopa County Superior Court was told that Sutherland has been charged with one count of sexual abuse and one count of abuse of a vulnerable adult.

His lawyer has told reporters that the defence team plans to conduct its own DNA tests.

He is being held on $500,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court again on 19 March.

The victim has spent most of her life in the care home after being disabled by seizures during childhood.

Her family say she is capable of responding to sound and making facial gestures and she has some ability to move her arms, legs, head and neck.

“The important thing is that she is a beloved daughter, albeit with significant intellectual disabilities,” they said in a statement in January.

The baby boy is being looked after by family and is doing well, police have said.

(c) Sky News 2019: Nurse Nathan Sutherland pleads not guilty to abusing woman in vegetative state

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