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Arizona nurse who sexually assaulted incapacitated patient sentenced to 10 years

Nathan Sutherland sexually assaulted a woman who was at a long-term care facility. The woman gave birth in December 2018.

A former Arizona nurse who sexually assaulted an incapacitated patient at a long-term care facility where she later gave birth was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday.

The man, Nathan Sutherland, was sentenced to the maximum allowed under the sexual assault charge that he pleaded guilty to in September.

The sexual assault of the woman, who was 29 at the time, was discovered after she gave birth in December 2018 at a Hacienda HealthCare facility in Phoenix, where she was a patient.

The woman had been at the long-term care facility since she was 3.

Her family has said she has significant intellectual disabilities as a result of seizures early in her childhood. She has some ability to move her limbs, head and neck but cannot speak.

“It’s hard to imagine a more vulnerable adult than the victim in this case,” Superior Court Judge Margaret LaBianca said at sentencing.

Sutherland was also sentenced to lifetime supervised probation, and he will have to register as a sex offender, NBC affiliate KPNX of Phoenix reported.

Sutherland was arrested and charged in January 2019 after DNA evidence tied him to the child. He was fired after his arrest and pleaded guilty to sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse in September.

In court Thursday, Sutherland apologized to the victim and her family, according to The Associated Press. The victim’s mother is the child's guardian.

"To the victim, I am sorry," Sutherland said. "You didn’t deserve to be hurt no matter what was going on in my personal life and the demons I was fighting. I had no right to put you through that."

John A. Micheaels, an attorney for the victim's family, said they asked for the maximum sentence, which the judge imposed. The family did not wish to comment further Thursday.

In a written statement, Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel said the sentence was just and appropriate.

"This sentence honors the wishes of the victims in this case," Adel said. "I am committed to holding offenders accountable and when determining the terms of a plea agreement offered to any defendant, all factors, both mitigating and aggravating, are considered."

Bill Timmons, then the CEO of Hacienda HealthCare, resigned after the woman gave birth. The state of Arizona, Hacienda and others settled for millions of dollars in lawsuits filed by the woman’s family.

Hacienda’s current CEO, Perry Petrilli, said in a statement Thursday of Sutherland: “We are relieved that he will never again torment another innocent human being.”