February 8, 2019 / 6:25 PM / 3 months ago

Florida caregiver charged after mentally disabled woman gives birth

(Reuters) - A Florida man has been charged with sexually assaulting a mentally disabled woman who became pregnant four years ago at a group home where he worked as a caregiver.

Willie Shorter, 58, was charged with lewd and lascivious battery on a disabled adult after a test showed his DNA matched that of the child of the woman who was identified only as “DB,” Rockledge, Florida, police said in a court affidavit.

Shorter was released on bond on Thursday after being arrested a day earlier, according to Brevard County Sheriff’s Office records. Shorter could not immediately be reached for comment, and a Rockledge police spokeswoman said she did not know if he had an attorney.

Police in Rockledge, a coastal city about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Orlando, initially launched their investigation after the woman became pregnant in mid-January 2015 while living at the home.

“DB has the mental capacity of that of a small child, and when questioned, she cannot tell the difference between a truth and a lie, and is unable to distinguish between right and wrong,” the police affidavit said. “For this reason DB is unable to consent to sexual intercourse based on her mental health status.”

Although the woman named Shorter as one of three potential fathers of the son she eventually had, police said he denied having had sex with her, and they lacked evidence to get a DNA sample.

But after a second incident last April when the woman reported that Shorter touched her vagina, police said they reopened their investigation, and Shorter agreed to provide a DNA sample. The test results, which came back on Wednesday, showed Shorter was the father of the woman’s son, police said.

The case is the second recent revelation of an alleged sexual assault of a woman with a disability that nullified her ability to consent to sex.

In Phoenix, police cited DNA evidence in charging a male nurse with sexually assaulting a severely disabled woman at a nursing facility in a case that only came to light when she unexpectedly gave birth on Dec. 29.

The nurse, Nathan Sutherland, who had been assigned to care for the woman at Hacienda HealthCare facility, pleaded not guilty to charges against him on Tuesday.

Hacienda announced on Thursday that it would close the 60-bed nursing facility where the woman gave birth.

Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Tom Brown

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