Nurse accused of raping incapacitated woman at Hacienda Healthcare pleads not guilty

PHOENIX (AP/FOX 10) - A nurse charged with sexually assaulting an incapacitated woman who later gave birth at a long-term care facility in Phoenix  pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday at an arraignment hearing.

Authorities say Nathan Sutherland raped the 29-year-old victim at Hacienda HealthCare.

Hacienda workers said they didn't know the woman was pregnant.

Investigators say Sutherland's DNA matched a sample from the woman's newborn, though Sutherland's attorney says there's no direct evidence linking Sutherland to the rape.

>>FULL COVERAGE: Hacienda Healthcare investigation

Sutherland is charged with sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult.

He has since given up his nursing license.

The Dec. 29 birth triggered reviews by state agencies, highlighted safety concerns for patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated and prompted the resignations of Hacienda's chief executive and one of the victim's doctors.

Sutherland's next scheduled court appearance is for an initial pretrial conference on March 19.

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