While that investigation continues, detectives with the Phoenix Police Department recently opened a criminal investigation at a nursing home operated by Hacienda HealthCare after a 29-year-old woman who has been in a coma nearly her entire life gave birth to a boy there on Dec. 29. The two investigations have brought intense national scrutiny on Hacienda, Arizona’s largest privately operated long-term nursing company for people with developmental disabilities. People in its care have a range of intellectual and physical disabilities.
In recent years, Hacienda has also been investigated by the Arizona Department of Health Services over the treatment of its patients. In 2013, the agency found that a male employee at the nursing home being investigated, the Hacienda Skilled Nursing Facility, had made sexually explicit remarks to patients, including telling a resident that his penis was erect. In 2017, investigators reported that employees freely walked in on patients while they were naked and showering.
The woman at the center of the police investigation has been at Hacienda since she was 3. She cannot move on her own, cannot communicate and requires total supervision, according to health records obtained by The New York Times.
The San Carlos Apache Tribe, whose reservation is about 100 miles east of Phoenix, said the woman was an “enrolled member” of the tribe. The tribe’s chairman and her mother, who was granted permanent guardianship in 2009, have not returned calls seeking comment.
The police said this week it was unclear whether staff members at the Hacienda nursing home, who delivered the baby, had known that the woman was pregnant. Both the mother and the baby were recovering at a Phoenix hospital, the police said this week.
“She was not in a position to give consent to any of this,” Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a police spokesman, said on Wednesday. “This was a helpless victim who was sexually assaulted.”
Since the Phoenix police announced their investigation a week ago, detectives have collected the DNA of male employees at Hacienda; the state dispatched health inspectors to check on the other patients there; and the company’s longtime chief executive, Bill Timmons, resigned. Over nearly three decades, Mr. Timmons had built Hacienda into a major player in long-term health care in Arizona.