Family of woman in vegetative state who gave birth is 'traumatized and in shock'

Image: Hacienda Healthcare
Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix on Jan. 4, 2019. Copyright Ross D. Franklin AP
By Phil Helsel with NBC News U.S. News
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An attorney representing the family said they are caring for the woman's baby boy.


Phoenix police said Wednesday they are reaching out to the community in search of a suspect for sexual assault after a woman who has been in a vegetative state for years gave birth to a baby boy.

A lawyer for the woman's family meanwhile said they are "traumatized and in shock" by the "abuse and neglect" of their daughter.

Police were called to a Hacienda HealthCare center at around 3:42 p.m. on Dec. 29, according to statements by police and Hacienda.

"The baby was in distress," the police said in their statement Wednesday. "The woman and the baby were transported to a local hospital and at this time, both the mother and the baby are recovering."

Police said they immediately began a sexual assault investigation. "At this time, detectives are reaching out to the community for assistance in identifying the suspect," the statement Wednesday said.

Hacienda HealthCare has said the woman was a patient at one of its facilities, and called it a "deeply disturbing, but unprecedented situation."

The San Carlos Apache Tribesaid in a statement to NBC affiliate KPNX of Phoenix that the woman is a 29-year-old member of the tribe, and that she has been in a persistent vegetative state and coma for over a decade.

Police served a search warrant to obtain DNA from male staff at the Hacienda long-term care center, the health care organization said in a statement Tuesday, adding that "as a company, we welcome this development in the ongoing police investigation."

An attorney representing the woman's family told KPNX in a statement Tuesday that the family was not emotionally prepared to make a statement but that they "would like me to convey that the baby boy has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for."

"The family obviously is outraged, traumatized and in shock by the abuse and neglect of their daughter at Hacienda Healthcare," the lawyer said.

Hacienda HealthCare has said it is cooperating fully with police. The group's CEO, Bill Timmons, resigned on Mondayin the wake of reports on the case.

Hacienda HealthCare is privately owned and has more than 40 Phoenix-based health care programs that serve 2,500 people a year, according to its website. A majority of its patients are infants, children, teens and young adults.

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