Po­lice: Co­matose woman who had baby is hos­pi­tal­ized

The Mercury News - - News -

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.”

ROSS D. FRANKLIN — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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