The family of an incapacitated woman who was raped and impregnated at her long-term healthcare facility has sued the state of Arizona and two doctors for negligence.
The lawsuit, filed Dec. 24, alleges that the state and the two doctors who cared for the 30-year-old patient at Hacienda HealthCare failed to meet the family’s request that only female staff take care of her, the Associated Press reports.
The suit alleges that Arizona, which commonly contracts with healthcare facilities like Hacienda to care for people with developmental disabilities, failed to properly monitor the facility, which led to the patient’s subsequent rape and impregnation.
The suit also claims that the doctors who oversaw her care—Dr. Phillip Gear of the Just For Kids medical practice and Dr. Thanh Nguyen of Internal Medicine Consultants LLC—were negligent because neither noticed the pregnancy.
The woman, who had resided at Hacienda since she was 3, suffers from limited mobility and “significant intellectual disabilities as a result of seizures very early in her childhood,” according to her family’s attorney.
She had been a patient at Hacienda HealthCare under Dr. Gear’s care for 26 years; Dr. Nguyen cared for her from September 2018 until December 2018, the month she birthed her child.
The woman gave birth Dec. 29 after a Hacienda staffer noticed she was crowning. A (now former) nurse at Hacienda, Nathan Sutherland, is accused of sexually assaulting the woman. Although the police say his DNA matches the baby’s DNA, Sutherland has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult. His trial is set to start Feb. 25.
It’s hard to imagine the pain and heartbreak this woman’s family must be enduring: first watching her live in an incapacitated state for decades, and now living with the heartache of this violation and the birth of a child who is both family and the son of the accused rapist.
Although it’s unclear how much money the family has sued for, they deserve every penny they get. Then some.