Bill proposes tougher background checks for care employees

The story of an incapacitated woman who was raped and impregnated at Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix garnered international attention in 2019.

The suspect, a nurse identified as Nathan Dorceus Sutherland, has been arrested.

Jon Meyers calls the unthinkable crime a "stain on our state."

"It demonstrated how a lack of control and supervision could result in such a horrific act taking place," said Meyers, who is the Executive Director of ARC, a nonprofit that tries to protect people with disabilities.

Almost immediately, Arizona strengthened laws that protect these vulnerable people. However, each state has its own laws, with some that are strong and some that are weak.

Now, Arizona lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are banding together to prevent it from happening again.

Reps. Ruben Gallego (D), Tom O'Halleran (D), and Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Martha McSally (R) are proposing a new Federal law to protect vulnerable adults in care facilities nationwide.

Under the bill, called "Preventing Abuse and Neglect of Vulnerable Americans Act", a national database will be created for stronger background checks on employees. The bill will also force care facilities to be more transparent.

"All of those steps have been taken in Arizona. We now need something on the national level that will make sure everyone across the country will be protected," said Meyers.

Meyers admits there is no guarantee the unthinkable won't happen again, but he believes a stronger Federal law, followed by all states, in another step in the right direction.