A 36-year-old male nurse, Nathan Sutherland, has been arrested by Phoenix Police in Arizona for the sexual assault of a woman who gave birth while in a long-term vegetative state.
The 29-year-old victim, who police said “was not in a position to give consent”, gave birth late in December 2018 to a baby boy, sparking an investigation.
The suspect’s DNA was matched to that of the baby, leading to the arrest, according to police on Wednesday.
Phoenix policeman, Tommy Thompson, said in a news conference that the suspect faces charges of one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse.
Mr Sutherland is a “licensed practical nurse who was responsible for providing care to the victim during this time the sexual assault occurred,” Phoenix Police Chief, Jeri Williams, said.
The police chief said she had not encountered a similar case during 30 years in law enforcement.
The victim’s family said in a statement carried by US media that she “has significant intellectual disabilities as a result of seizures very early in her childhood.”
The victim “does not speak but has some ability to move her limbs, head and neck” and “responds to sound and is able to make facial gestures,” the statement read.
“The baby, I am told, is doing good. We can’t always choose how we come into this life, but what we can choose to do as a community is love this child, and that’s what we have the opportunity to do,” said Mr Thompson.
A lawyer for the woman’s family has said the infant “has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for,” according to The New York Times.
The CEO of the nursing facility resigned following the scandal.