Arizona Police Launch Sexual Assault Investigation After Woman In Vegetative Coma For 10 Years Gives Birth

Police in Phoenix, Arizona, have started a sexual assault investigation after a woman gave birth to a baby last month, despite being in a vegetative coma for the last 10 years.

The woman, who was not named, is a patient at a clinic run by Hacienda HealthCare and had been in a coma, the BBC reported. Reports noted that the baby was born healthy, but said that staff members were not even aware that the comatose woman was pregnant until she was nearly ready to give birth.

Phoenix police said they are investigating the matter, but did not give many details about the case. A source told the BBC that the woman required round-the-clock care and that many medical personnel and staff had access to her room during that time. The hospital has since introduced a change in policy that men must be accompanied by a woman when entering the room of a female patient.

A spokesperson said they were implementing other safety measures in the wake of the suspected sexual assault.

“During this time, the agency has required heightened safety measures be implemented at the facility, including increased staff presence during patient interactions; increased monitoring of the patient care areas; and increased security measures with respect to visitors at the facility,” the spokeswoman, Melissa Blasius-Nuanez, said on Friday (via the New York Times).

The facility specializes in care for “medically fragile and chronically ill infants, children, teens, and young adults as well as those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” The woman in question had been in a vegetative state for more than a decade, reports noted.

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As the New York Times noted, the 74-bed facility has been in trouble in the past. In 2013, Arizona’s Department of Health Services investigated after allegations that a male employee made sexually explicit comments about female patients. In one case, colleagues said they overheard the employee remarking about having a “happy morning” because his penis was erect. But the investigation did not look into any allegations of sexual abuse, the report noted.

The facility came under fire again in 2017 after state investigators found that patients were not given privacy when they were naked and given showers. One patient had complained that employees would freely walk into the shower when she was bathing naked, a state report noted.

The reports did not say what happened to the baby born to the vegetative woman, or whether investigators have any suspects in mind for the alleged sexual assault of the woman.