Police: Comatose woman who had baby is hospitalized
PHOENIX >> An Arizona woman in a vegetative state who was sexually assaulted at a long-term care facility and had a baby is recovering at a hospital along with her child, authorities said Wednesday.
Commenting for the first time on the investigation since the Dec. 29 birth came to light, Phoenix police said finding a suspect is a top priority. Police are gathering DNA from all male employees at the facility.
“She was not in a position to give consent to any of this,” police spokesman Tommy Thompson said. “So if anyone can understand that, this was a helpless victim who was sexually assaulted.”
He didn’t release the conditions of the woman and child.
Hacienda HealthCare owns the care facility and said it welcomed the DNA testing. Authorities served a search warrant Tuesday.
“We will continue to cooperate with Phoenix police and all other investigative agencies to uncover the facts in this deeply disturbing, but unprecedented situation,” the company said in a statement.
The case has triggered reviews by state agencies and highlighted safety concerns for severely disabled or incapacitated patients.
Local news website Azfamily.com first reported that the woman in a vegetative state for more than 10 years after a neardrowning had given birth.
A lawyer for the woman’s family said they were outraged at the “neglect of their daughter.” It’s unclear if staff members at the facility were aware of her pregnancy until the birth.
“The family would like me to convey that the baby boy has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for,” Phoenix attorney John Micheaels said in a statement.
Officials with the San Carlos Apache tribe of southeastern Arizona said they were “deeply shocked and horrified at the treatment of one of our members,” a 29-year-old woman.
“When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers,” tribal chairman Terry Rambler said. “Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her. It is my hope that justice will be served.”
San Carlos Apache Police Chief Alejandro Benally said Phoenix police “will do all they can to find the perpetrator.”
A spokesman for Hacienda HealthCare, David Leibowitz, said investigators served a search warrant Tuesday to obtain DNA samples from all male staffers — a day after company CEO Bill Timmons stepped down.
Board member Gary Orman said the facility “will accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation.”
An official for Hacienda HealthCare said investigators served a search warrant Tuesday to obtain DNA samples from all male staffers at the facility in Phoenix.