The family of an incapacitated woman who was been allegedly raped by a health care facility employee suggests that the woman might have been pregnant before. The family filed a notice of claim on Wednesday against Arizona, saying that they would settle the case for $45 million. A spokesman for office of Gov. Doug Ducey said they got a copy of the claim are looking into it, according to AZ Central.
The woman’s case caught national attention this year when she gave birth to a baby boy at a since-shuttered Hacienda Healthcare facility. She was not in any physical condition to give consent. This was a rape, police said. Nathan Dorceus Sutherland was later identified as the assailant. He pleaded not guilty, and his case remains ongoing.
The state is being targeted in the proposed lawsuit because its Medicaid program funds Hacienda, and manages cases through an agency. This woman’s family said healthcare providers were negligent. For example, they allowed male caregivers (like Sutherland) in the room even though the support plan mandated that only female staffers should be there.
Maricopa County medical examiners said it looked like the woman had been “violated” multiple times, and the birth was probably a “repeat parous event,” according to the notice as reported by AZ Family. In other words, it looked like she had been pregnant before.
They also accused the facility of failing to figure out that the woman was pregnant until a staffer when to change her and found “a baby’s head in her briefs.” Instead, it had been believed that the patient was just gaining weight, so a doctor had her feeding tube discontinued on Dec. 13, 2018 in a bid to fix that.
The family alleged that the woman was alone with Sutherland hundreds of times.
The patient and her relatives belong to the San Carlos Apache Tribe. According to the notice of claim, she had been with Hacienda since since was 3 years old because she developed seizures when she was 2 months old.
When news first broke about her pregnancy, a source told KPHO that none of the staff realized she’d been pregnant until “she was pretty much giving birth.” At the time, it was reported she had been in the facility after being in a near-drowning incident.
[Image via AZ Family syreengrab]