Suspect in rape of woman in vegetative state 'fooled' everybody

The mother of a man in the same care facility where a patient in a vegetative state gave birth has said the suspect who was arrested had "fooled everyone".

Nathan Sutherland, a 36-year-old nurse at Hacienda Healthcare in Phoenix, was arrested on Monday (local time) for sexually assaulting a female patient who was unable to give consent.

Sutherland was responsible for caring for the 29-year-old woman, who has been in an incapacitated state for more than 14 years.

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She gave birth to the baby in December.

The mother of another patient at the facility said she could hardly believe Sutherland was the suspect.

"He was very loving, very compassionate. Or he pretended to be. And I really trusted him," Angela Gomez told KPHO-TV.

"I suspected others, but I was wrong, and he fooled everybody. I was in shock. Complete shock because I trusted this man.

"I have even told him, I'm glad you're working with my son tonight, it gives me a good feeling when I go home."

Other patients in the facility, including her son, have been undergoing checks for STDs.

Ms Gomez said she was afraid Sutherland was the monster her son often referred to.

Former co-worker Eleanora Riggers told ABC she worked with Sutherland for 11 years, and described him as a friend who was fun and liked by almost everyone.

She said she was also concerned about other patients at the facility.

"I think he is a coward. I think he is the lowest scum imaginable because I considered him a friend," Ms Riggers told ABC.

It has also emerged Sutherland was a Christian rapper who performed with a band called Sleeplessouljaz and played in churches and concert halls around Phoenix. 

He is married with four children, but KPHO-TV reported his wife filed for divorce seven weeks ago.