No signs of pregnancy in comatose woman in April exam

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For the first time since a patient in a vegetative state for more than a decade at an Arizona-based nursing facility gave birth on December 29, the Phoenix Police Department has revealed new details about what led to a sexual assault investigation.

Officers launched a sex crime investigation when it was determined the mother was in a vegetative state, police spokesman Tommy Thompson said.

While the hunt for her assailant is in progress, the case has raised the question: How could a woman who for 14 years has presumably displayed no awareness and little brain functioning conceive a child and give birth?

Police were called that day on a report of a newborn in distress, Thompson said.

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 baby boy.

To find the possible assailant, police in the southwestern USA state are comparing DNA samples from the baby with male employees at the Hacienda Del Sol care centre, where the 29-year-old woman was a patient.

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The company has said it welcomes DNA testing of its male staffers and is cooperating in the investigation.

In 1996, a woman from Rochester, New York, who had been in a coma for a decade after a auto accident, gave birth to a 2-pound baby boy.

'When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers.

The woman went into labor a few days before New Year's, perplexing her caretakers.

Meanwhile, the unnamed woman's family have also expressed outrage at the "neglect of their daughter" - and added that they will now care for the child.

Since the birth came to light, Hacienda HealthCare has implemented increased safety measures, including more than one staff member being present during patient interactions and more scrutiny of visitors.

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"In a statement, board member Gary Orman said: "[We] will accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation".

Earlier this week, the chief executive of the corporation in charge of the home resigned over the case.

"We will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of every single one of our patients and our employees".

"There's a lot of information we do not have".

PEOPLE reports they date back to 2009 from an order that transferred guardianship of the woman from her biological father to her mother.

Advocates for the disabled say Arizona needs to find a way to monitor allegations of sexual abuse and sexual violence in group settings. However, the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center, a division of the American Institutes for Research, explains a key difference: People in a coma don't open their eyes at all, while those in a vegetative state might.

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"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.