The Arizona nurse accused of sexually assaulting an incapacitated female patient at a Phoenix long-term care center was once part of a Christian rap duo with his sister.
Nathan Sutherland, who was arrested Wednesday and charged with sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse, performed under the name SLS or Sleeplessouljaz, his former pastor told NBC News.
“That was back in the early days, him and his sister had a rap act,” said Pastor Marie Mosley of the Faith Center West Family Church in Mesa, Arizona. “I haven’t seen him since 2003. He’s been in a lot of churches since then.”
Sutherland, 36, appeared in court for the first time Wednesday. He was released on $500,000 cash bail, the AP reported, with the order that he wear an electronic monitoring device. His next court date is Jan. 30.
His lawyer, David Gregan, said Sutherland has lived in Arizona since 1993 and has no prior criminal record.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
“There’s no direct evidence that Mr. Sutherland has committed these acts,” Gregan said. “I know at this point there’s DNA. But he will have a right to his own DNA expert.”
A licensed practical nurse, Sutherland had worked at Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix since 2011. The chain of events that led to his arrest began in dramatic fashion Dec. 29 when an incapacitated, 29-year-old patient suddenly went into labor and gave birth to a boy. Staff at the facility had been unaware she was pregnant.
After investigators took DNA samples from male staff at the center, Sutherland turned out to be a match, authorities said.
In a statement, Hacienda HealthCare said Sutherland had undergone “an extensive background check” before he was hired. He was fired after his arrest.
In a video posted online previously by Dog Entertainment Ministries, Sutherland said he and his sister are from Haiti and were adopted by an Arizona couple when he was 7 and his sister was 4.
“My parents, they split up in Haiti,” he said. “I remember my mom couldn’t take care of us and brought us to an orphanage…One meal a day was a blessing.”
Sutherland said he was 10 when he started writing his own songs.
A former neighbor, Esella Burr, said Sutherland lived near her for more than five years until he sold his Phoenix-area home in October. She told the Associated Press that he was a quiet family man and a regular churchgoer.
Burr said Sutherland shared the home with his wife and four children, and that he was friendly and would sometimes wave or start a conversation with her. She said he once gave her a ride and told her he liked his job as a nurse.
Corky Siemaszko is a senior writer for NBC News Digital.