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Adam Lowther was a busy man, traveling constantly for his work as director of the Air Force's Advanced Nuclear Deterrence Studies. But on the afternoon of August 30, 2017, he called his wife, Jessica, with good news: He would be home in time to take their two children—ages 4 and 7—to tae kwon do practice.
Little did Adam know that he was about to be forcibly separated from his children for half a year, and would spend more than $300,000 in legal bills trying to reunite his family after it was torn apart by the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) on the basis of a false sexual abuse accusation. Now Adam and his wife are suing the police and child services officials for violating their rights, misleading other authorities about the merits of the case against them, and traumatizing their children.
They are suing, not just in hopes that they might recover some of their financial losses, but also to bring about institutional change. The experience has opened up the Lowthers' eyes to the inequities of the criminal justice system—and they don't want anyone to go through what they did.
"We never thought this kind of thing could ever happen," Adam 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."
In the middle of that August 30 phone call with her husband, Jessica heard a knock at the front door of their Albuquerque home. It was the police. They told her they had come to perform a welfare check on the kids.
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