KEY POINTS

  • A Phoenix nurse was charged with sexually assaulting an incapacitated woman at a long-term care facility in 2019
  • The nurse has asked a judge to throw out DNA evidence that authorities say ties him to the rape
  • A judge has scheduled a May 21 hearing on the request of his attorney

A court date has been set for the hearing on a nurse's challenge to dismiss DNA evidence that implicated him of sexually assaulting and impregnating an incapacitated woman at a long-term care facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

A judge has scheduled a May 21 hearing on the request of former licensed practical nurse Nathan Sutherland's defense attorney, Edward Molina, to toss the DNA evidence used against his client as he argued it was acquired without a warrant or probable cause, the Associated Press reported. 

Sutherland was arrested and charged with sexual assault in 2019 after a then-29-year-old patient at the Hacienda Healthcare facility he worked at gave birth, and a police investigation tied him to the pregnancy.

Phoenix police acquired DNA evidence from 36 male employees who had direct access to the victim, and it was revealed that Sutherland's matched a sample taken from the woman's son.

Molina, however, argued that police were unaware of the job duties of the 36 men and whether or not they had contact with the victim and that authorities proceeded with the investigation thinking "anybody and everybody could be a suspect," local newspaper The Arizona Republic reported.

The defense attorney said in a court filing in February that police should have relied on a court order with a lesser standard of proof to gather evidence. 

Prosecutors are scheduled to file a response to the challenge later this week, as per the Associated Press.

Sutherland has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult. Hacienda fired him after his arrest, and he voluntarily surrendered his license to the Arizona State Board of Nursing. 

A police report said staff noticed Sutherland began acting differently months before the victim gave birth. They initially attributed the change in behavior to Sutherland's then-ongoing divorce. 

Police dismissed early reports that the victim had been pregnant prior to the incident.

The victim, who had been in the facility for 26 years, was removed after the incident and her parents are reportedly taking care of the baby. 

Investigators learned that the victim's family requested for a female-only staff to take care of the victim after they were informed that the victim may have been inappropriately touched in 2002. Despite the request, Sutherland had reportedly taken care of the victim on hundreds of occasions from 2012 through 2018.

police-378255_1920 Representation. Sutherland was charged withs exual abuse in 2019 after a then-29-year-old patient from the long-care facility he worked at gave birth and a police investigation tied him to the pregnancy. Photo: Pixabay