The family of a woman in a vegetative state who recently gave birth after being raped is speaking out.
“The family obviously is outraged, traumatized and in shock by the abuse and neglect of their daughter at Hacienda Healthcare,” John Micheaels, an attorney representing the family, told HuffPost in a statement Wednesday.
The patient, a 29-year-old Native American woman whose identity has not been made public, has been in a coma ― which Micheaels described as “a completely vulnerable state” ― for 14 years after a near-drowning incident. She has been in the care of Hacienda HealthCare, a Phoenix-based nursing facility.
She gave birth on Dec. 29 to a healthy child, according to reports from local outlet KPHO-TV. Hacienda staffers reportedly did not realize the patient was pregnant until she began moaning as she was going into labor. KPHO-TV reported on Monday that the woman had been raped several times.
“The family is well aware of the intense news and public interest in their daughter’s case, but at this time is not emotionally ready to make a public statement,” Micheaels said. “The family would like me to convey that the baby boy has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for.”
The attorney asked that the media and public honor the family’s wish for privacy.
Phoenix police served search warrants to obtain DNA from all male staffers at the facility, Hacienda HealthCare told HuffPost in a Tuesday statement.
“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.
Police commented for the first time on the investigation Wednesday, saying that no one has been ruled out as a suspect and that the case “is of the highest priority of the Phoenix Police Department.”
“She was not in a position to give consent to any of this. So if anyone can understand that, this was a helpless victim who was sexually assaulted,” police spokesman Tommy Thompson said.
Thompson said that the police investigation began on Dec. 29, when emergency personnel responded to a 911 call from Hacienda HealthCare.
The newborn reportedly had trouble breathing when first delivered, but the child and the mother have seen been relocated to a hospital and are in stable condition.
Thompson said police waited before commenting publicly to avoid scaring the perpetrator into hiding.
When asked if the victim had been repeatedly raped, Thompson responded: “I know she was sexually assaulted at least once, which is way too many times.”
“This woman, though incapacitated, is a very important part of our community and our heart goes out to her,” Thompson said. “In addition, the baby that was born — this child is an important part of our community and as police officers our job, our goal is to protect individuals and make sure that they receive justice.”
Hacienda HealthCare’s longtime CEO, Bill Timmons, resigned on Monday in the wake of the crime. Gary Orman, executive vice president, said the facility “will accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation.”
The woman is a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, based in southeastern Arizona, “CBS This Morning” reported.
“I am deeply shocked and horrified at the treatment of one of our members. It is my hope that justice will be served,” the tribe chairman told CBS.
A former caregiver of the victim expressed shock to ABC-15 that no one at the facility realized the patient was pregnant.
“I can’t believe that somebody would bathe her daily for nine months and never know that she wasn’t having a period, that she [was] growing in her midsection, that nurses weren’t keeping track” of her weight, said the caregiver, whose identity was kept private by the station. “Those things are shocking to me.”
This article has been updated to include comments from a Phoenix police spokesman.