A Ferndale nursing assistant has been accused of sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled adult for whom he was caring.
Nathaniel Matthew Miller, 46, was charged in Whatcom County Superior Court with one count of second-degree rape.
The charging document states that Miller is accused of raping the victim while the victim was incapable of consent because they were physically helpless or mentally incapacitated; that Miller is a health-care provider and the victim is a client or patient, and the assault occurred during a treatment session, consultation, interview or examination and that the victim is a developmentally disabled adult that Miller had supervisory authority over.
It also includes an aggravating factor that states that Miller knew or should have known the victim was particularly vulnerable or incapable of resistance, according to court records.
A warrant was issued for Miller's arrest on Aug. 3 after a judge found reasonable cause to believe that Miller would commit a violent offense, the court records state.
"This is a very egregious breach of trust for somebody who is put into services, and to have this happen is a very disturbing allegation," Whatcom County senior deputy prosecuting attorney David Graham said Tuesday, Sept. 19, at Miller's first appearance in court.
Miller's criminal defense attorney, Lauren Mariko Wegener, said Miller lacks previous criminal history and requested he be released from the Whatcom County Jail on his personal recognizance.
As soon as Miller learned there was a warrant out for his arrest, he took steps to appear in court to "responsibly address these allegations," Wegener said at Miller's first appearance.
"I do not believe my client is a danger to the community or a flight risk," Wegener said, adding that Miller won't continue doing the work he was previously hired to do.
A court commissioner set Miller's bail at $200,000. A sexual assault protection order was also put in place between Miller and the victim.
Washington State Department of Health records show Miller was issued a nursing assistant registration license in late June 2000. His credential, which was renewed in late February, is currently active and there have been no enforcement actions taken on his license, according to state health department records.
At the time of the alleged sexual assault, Miller was working as a caregiver at Holly Community Services. The supported-living agency provides residential support services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Bellingham and Ferndale areas, according to its website.
It was unclear as of Wednesday, Sept. 20, whether Miller is still employed with the agency.
The Bellingham Herald has reached out to the Whatcom County Prosecutor's Office, Miller's defense attorney and Holly Community Services for more information.
On July 5, a manager with Holly Community Services reported to Bellingham police that a resident observed Miller, who was a staff member, sexually assault another disabled resident at a Bellingham home in the 1400 block of East Maryland Street. At least four disabled adults live at the home and require 24/7 care from Holly Community Services staff members, according to court records.
Bellingham police were assigned an Adult Protective Services referral the following day. The referral stated that a vulnerable adult who requires disability services reported that her caretaker, later identified as Miller, raped her on July 4.
The woman told police that on July 4, Miller kissed her chest, pulled her underwear down and raped her. The woman said she tried to move her hips or body out from underneath Miller, but was unable to do so, according to court records.
The woman was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Bellingham where she was treated and a sexual assault nurse examination kit was done. The medical report corroborated the woman's disclosure and is consistent with a sexual assault, the court records state.
Bellingham police also discovered that one of the woman's roommates witnessed the sexual assault, the documents state. The roommate told police they were in the kitchen and witnessed Miller sexually assault the woman in the living room.
Miller is currently incarcerated in the Whatcom County Jail, according to court and jail records.