Phoenix police said Wednesday they are reaching out to the community to help identify a suspect for sexual assault after a woman who has been in a vegetative state for years gave birth.
A spokesman for Hacienda HealthCare says investigators served a search warrant Tuesday to obtain DNA samples from all male staffers.
The woman's mother, who is her legal guardian, submitted an annual report as required by state law that included results of a physical done April 16 at a Phoenix long-term care facility where the 29-year-old patient lives.
A female patient living at a Hacienda HealthCare facility reportedly gave birth December 29 although the staff was unaware the woman was pregnant. Now mother and child are recovering in a local hospital.
Hacienda HealthCare says it's cooperating with police and has called the case "deeply disturbing".
In recent days police have addressed the media to give more information about the sexual assault investigation now underway, after they were alerted to the birth.
Hacienda HealthCare said they accepted DNA testing of its employees and will cooperate with officials.
The 29-year-old woman has been in a persistent vegetative state since nearly drowning over a decade ago, and can not move or communicate.
"The family obviously is outraged, traumatized and in shock by the abuse and neglect of their daughter at Hacienda HealthCare", the family's attorney, John Micheaels said.
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"One of our patients just had a baby, and we had no idea she was pregnant", the nurse said. Hacienda staffers reportedly did not realize the patient was pregnant until she began moaning as she was going into labor.
"She was not in a position to give consent to any of this", police spokesman Tommy Thompson said.
On its website, Hacienda HealthCare says it provides care for "medically fragile and chronically ill infants, children, teens, and young adults as well as those with intellectual and developmental disabilities".
Executive vice president of the board Gary Orman said Hacienda "will accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation, an unprecedented case that has devastated everyone involved, from the victim and her family to Hacienda staff at every level of our organisation".
After the reports, the Arizona Department of Health Services said new safety measures have been implemented, including increased staff presence during any patient interaction, more monitoring of patient care areas and additional security measures involving visitors. As a company, we welcome this development in the ongoing police investigation.
We know that sexual assault and rape are less about sex than they are predation, which is one reason assailants target the vulnerable - children, women under the influence of drugs or alcohol, people with disabilities.