A nurse facing criminal charges in the rape of an incapacitated woman who later gave birth at a long-term care facility in Phoenix pleaded not guilty Tuesday. The only comments by Nathan Dorceus Sutherland came when he identified himself to the court and stated his birthdate, the AP reports. Afterward, Sutherland's attorney vowed a vigorous defense, but declined to answer questions from reporters. Authorities say Sutherland, 36, was working as a licensed practical nurse at Hacienda Healthcare in Phoenix when he raped the 29-year-old victim, who has been in long-term care since age 3 after suffering a near-drowning. She gave birth to a boy at the facility on Dec. 29. Employees said they had no idea she was pregnant.
Investigators say Sutherland's DNA matched a sample from the woman's newborn boy, who is being cared for by her family. Sutherland, who was shackled and carrying a legal pad during the arraignment hearing, pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual abuse and abuse of a vulnerable adult. Hacienda fired Sutherland after his arrest. He has since given up his nursing license. He remains jailed on a $500,000 bond. Sutherland attorney David Gregan declined to comment on the DNA evidence. Prosecutors asked a judge on Friday to order that Sutherland be tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. A judge hasn't yet ruled on the request. (The woman's parents say she has "significant intellectual disabilities," but is not in a coma.)