Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
A district judge has ordered the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office to release property that deputies took during a child abuse investigation and kept after the charges were dropped.
In October, the District Attorney’s Office dismissed sexual assault charges against a nuclear weapons expert who formerly worked at Kirtland Air Force Base. But the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office didn’t release the man’s property, which included thousands of dollars of electronics and a draft of a book.
Adam Lowther, the former director of the Air Force’s School for Advanced Nuclear Deterrence Studies, sought an emergency court order directing the Sheriff’s Office to release his property. Second Judicial District Judge Charles Brown granted the emergency court order last month.
The Sheriff’s Office didn’t respond to a request for comment about how the department handles property that it has confiscated during investigations after criminal charges against the property owner are dismissed.
For about a year and half, Lowther said in a recent interview, the county kept possession of thousands of dollars’ worth of electronics that belonged to him and his family.
Among the items seized was a draft of a book that Lowther had written on cyber-deterrence, which he said he will now have to revise and update if he wants to get it published. Lowther was one of the country’s top experts on nuclear policy before his arrest.
Lowther and his family are suing the county, the Children, Youth and Families Department and individuals who were part of the investigation that led to charges being filed against him.
In August 2017, Lowther was charged with criminal sexual penetration of a minor and criminal sexual contact of a minor for allegations that he abused a family member.
In October 2018, the District Attorney’s Office in Bernalillo County wrote a three-page declination letter to the Sheriff’s Office about the Lowther case. Prosecutors outlined several problems with the case, including a lack of forensic evidence; problems with the child’s safe house interview; a conclusion that the child’s disclosure could have resulted from an adult assisting a young child in the bathroom; and that the Sheriff’s Office misinterpreted a polygraph that a sergeant administered in which Lowther discussed the allegations.
Prosecutors said that a different polygraph examination Lowther gave where he denied the allegations showed he was truthful.
The Sheriff’s Office has declined to discuss the case, citing the ongoing lawsuit.
Lowther has said the allegations against him destroyed his career and traumatized his children. He lost his job and can’t find another, and his future, which at one point included plans to run for public office, is uncertain.
His children had to receive therapy after being placed in state foster care for about 10 weeks. He said his children are still terrified of law enforcement officers.
Lowther and his wife, Jessica Lowther, were separated for four months, and Lowther couldn’t see his children for more than six months, he said.
“My faith in institutions has been shattered,” Jessica Lowther said.