A Navy vet and nuclear weapons expert temporarily lost his family, his job, and more after a false accusation of sexual abuse rocked his world.
The man, Adam Lowther, is now suing police and family services for the money that he and his family paid to reunite, and for the pain and suffering that they endured during a time of hell.
What are the details of the incident?
Lowther, who worked at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, was arrested in August 2017 on suspicion of sexually abusing his daughter. He was the director of the Air Force's school for Advanced Deterrence Studies.
Authorities arrested Lowther and charged him with criminal sexual penetration of a minor, as well as criminal sexual contact of a minor against his 4-year-old daughter, after the child told her school teacher that her 7-year-old brother and father had both sexually assaulted her.
The teacher called family services to report the child's allegation. Within two hours, deputies arrived at the family's home and immediately took the couple's two children into emergency care for two days because of the allegation. Lowther was taken into custody at the home. He spent a week in jail, and lost both his job and his security clearance during that time. After his release, he could not contact the children throughout the investigation and had to live with an elderly couple from church.
The child was subject to an intrusive and traumatizing physical examination, according to her parents. Later, however, the interview with the child rendered facts that the child admitted that her father only helped her in the bathroom, and did not sexually assault her. The physical examination did not find any evidence of abuse.
In November, family services returned the two children to the custody of their mother.
Reason reported that in the following months, the criminal case against Lowther collapsed.
"Though the detectives had repeatedly threatened to go to a grand jury, they never did so, and thus actual criminal charges never materialized," Reason reported. "In April, the court-mandated therapist opined that Adam was not a threat to the kids."
Lowther was able to fully reunite and integrate with his family in May 2018.
In October 2018, District Attorney Raul Torrez reviewed the case and wrote a three-page letter detailing the many reasons that his office would not prosecute Lowther.
What's the family doing now?
Lowther told Reason that he is filing a lawsuit against the proper authorities over the harrowing case.
Lowther filed the suit in September 2018 against the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office as well as the state's child welfare department. The suit also alleges that authorities violated the family's constitutional rights several times throughout the investigation, and purports that Lowther children were not in good hands when temporarily placed in foster care.
In his suit, Lowther said that the entities traumatized his family and decimated his career as a nuclear weapons expert. The suit also reported that throughout the investigations, a deputy and a family services investigator made "misstatements and omitted things in reports or affidavits," which ended up misleading judges, according to the Albuquerque Journal. The suit says that the two are "either unencumbered by the truth or reckless incompetent."
The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, and alleges that the school did not properly vet the teacher before hiring her. The teacher had reportedly only known the 4-year-old child for a period of eight days before filing the report with family services.
The family is seeking more than $300,000 in damages in the lawsuit, according to Reason. The family also wants to help ensure that no family has to go through this type of trauma again.
Officials from the sheriff's office and the family services department did not comment on the case.
Lowther told Reason that he was heartbroken over the incident.
"We never thought this kind of thing could ever happen," Lowther said. "We assumed that law enforcement was competent and we assumed that they obeyed the law. That was a wrong assumption, but that was our assumption."