A Navy veteran who worked for the US Air Force lost everything after a single false accusation of sexual abuse- and now he’s suing with a vengeance.
In 2017, Dr. Adam Lowther was on his way home from a work-related trip and speaking with his wife, Jessica, when a knocking sound could be heard coming from the front door of their Albuquerque home.
Remaining on the line, Jessica went to the door and found two Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputies -Catherine Smalls and Brian Thornton- who claimed that someone from their daughter’s school reported them for sexually abusing their child.
It was the beginning of a nightmare that would last over half a year, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to remedy.
“We never thought this kind of thing could ever happen,” Mr. Lowther told Reason. “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.”
To make matters worse, the deputies weren’t terribly accommodating. When Mrs. Lowther asked deputies to wait for her husband before entering, deputy Thornton snapped back.
“If this was my investigation, you would be in the back of a cop car right now,” he said. “You’re obstructing our duty to check on the well-being of a child.”
However, it wasn’t Thornton’s investigation. In fact, it wasn’t even a law enforcement investigation. The matter fell under the control of the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department.
The original complaint came from Betty DuBoise, their daughter’s kindergarten teacher, who reportedly heard the little girl claim she was sexually assaulted by her father and 7-year-old brother.
During the encounter, Mr. Lowther was arrested, shoved into the backseat of a patrol car and put in jail for over a week. Days later, local media added insult to injury by running a story titled, “Nuke Expert at Kirtland Accused of Raping 4-Year-Old Girl.”
Needless to say, Dr. Lowther, holds a Doctorate in International Relations from the University of Alabama, lost his security clearance and job as director of the Air Force’s Advanced Nuclear Deterrence Studies.
“Adverse publicity created by the local news media coverage concerning your charges and allegations has had an adverse effect upon the Department of the Air Force,” wrote Lowther’s boss, a general. “Your alleged off-duty criminal misconduct and subsequent publicity cannot be tolerated in your position which requires utmost trust and integrity during the development of Nuclear Deterrence Studies.”
During the investigation by the state, medical personnel examined and photographed Lowther’s daughter.
“My daughter was forced through several invasive exams of her private parts,” Lowther said. “She is petrified of doctors to this day.”
Taken into state custody, the children had a hard time dealing with being in foster care, with the young son even threatening to kill himself.
Eventually, after several more cases of atrocious behavior by local government, Jessica was reunited with their children. Later, Mr. Lowther would be able to see his family, but not after a considerable amount of time, money and hassle.
In the end, the Deputy District Attorney Leila Hood of the Albuquerque Special Victims Unit declined to prosecute the Lowthers, as she felt that law enforcement and protective services were simply presuming the allegations were true and mishandled the situation. Furthermore, DuBuois, who had known the daughter for only a few days, had made numerous claims- some that were later proven to be untrue.
“They made no effort to verify anything that the teacher had said,” Lowther remarked.
Disgraced, financially dented and now local pariahs, the Lowther family moved from New Mexico to Texas in hopes of starting over.
In September of 2018, the Lowthers field a lawsuit against BCSO and CYFD, among other agencies, claiming that the law enforcement agents had violated the family’s civil rights. Furthermore, the suit also noted that DuBoise was an unreliable source of information, citing her “History of legal troubles, including convictions for shoplifting and several lawsuits for failure to pay bad debts, which bears on her credibility.”
BCSO did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for CYFD declined to comment, citing pending litigation. DuBois has since left the school and even her attorney has had difficulty tracking her down.
For Lowther, it’s all about justice.
“I can only imagine how bad it is for other families,” he said. “We want this to stop.”
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