Woman in vegetative state ‘may not have shown signs of pregnancy’

Police seek staff DNA over vegetative woman's baby

Police spokesman Tommy Thompson said at a news conference Wednesday that investigators are gathering DNA from male workers at the facility and that a suspect has yet to be identified in the sexual assault.

Meanwhile, the woman's family has expressed outrage over the incident, stating they were traumatised by the alleged abuse and neglect that took place at a facility where she was supposed to be cared for.

Her family, who are members of the San Carlos Apache tribe in southeastern Arizona, said in a statement through their attorney that they will care for the infant boy and have asked for privacy.

Hacienda HealthCare says it's cooperating with police and has called the case "deeply disturbing".

In a statement obtained Tuesday by 12 News in Phoenix, the San Carlos Apache Tribe confirmed that the woman is "an enrolled member of the Tribe" and has been in "a persistent vegetative state and coma" for years and gave birth "while still in a coma".

David Leibowitz, a spokesman for Hacienda Healthcare, said Tuesday that it welcomed the action by police and had considered conducting voluntary genetic testing of its staff before company lawyers said that doing so would be illegal.

The investigation began on or about January 4th as reported by Phoenix Fox 10, which reported the woman had been sexually assaulted by someone who allegedly cared for her at the facility, and that the staff was not even aware the woman was pregnant until she began moaning and the woman began giving birth.

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The 29-year-old woman, who has been incapacitated since age 3, was sexually assaulted, police say, and they are trying to track down the assailant.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's office has called the situation "deeply troubling".

"SCAPD will assist the Phoenix Police Department in any way possible". Police said it appears that none of the facility's staff members knew about the pregnancy until the December 29 birth, a notion that has drawn scepticism.

The department of health ordered Hacienda to implement "heightened safety measures", spokeswoman Melissa Blasius-Nuanez said.

"There's a lot of information we do not have". It's a "profound or deep state of unconsciousness" where the person doesn't have thinking abilities but has other bodily functions like breathing and circulation, and they may also open their eyes or make sounds like crying or laughing, states the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "But things like this don't happen without someone either knowing about it or should have known about it", Solomon said.

Advocates for people with disabilities say Arizona needs to find a way to monitor allegations of sexual abuse and sexual violence in group settings. "If it's the same story from different people, then there's something wrong". "We really need a lot of work in this area".

"I can't believe someone receiving that level of constant care wasn't recognized as being pregnant prior to the time she delivered", Meyers told the AP.

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