By Brian Lazenby
A Hamilton County prosecutor petitioned the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals in his effort to prevent a local man from having a charge of soliciting a minor expunged from his record, officials said.
Assistant District Attorney Bates Bryan said he appealed a ruling by Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern overturning his decision to deny pretrial diversion for Brian Lowman.PDF: Judge's memorandum reversing prosecutors' denial of pretrial diversion for Brian Lowman.
Mr. Lowman, 35, of Chattanooga, was working as a dental hygienist for Shabo Dental Center when he was accused of e-mailing sexually explicit messages to a 15-year-old patient.
"The judge found that we abused our discretion in refusing to grant pretrial diversion," Mr. Bryan said. "We asked (the judge) for permission for an ... appeal, but it was denied. We have now filed a request with the Court of Criminal Appeals."
Defense lawyer John Morgan, who represents Mr. Lowman, could not be reached Wednesday for comment.
According to court records, Mr. Lowman began sending e-mails in May 2005 to the girl, who is not identified here according to Chattanooga Times Free Press policy.
The e-mail messages discussed sex with an older man, sexual positions and ultimately discussed a proposed Oct. 15, 2005, meeting at Wynnsong Cinema, records show.
The girl informed police, who were waiting at the cinema to arrest Mr. Lowman when he arrived, records show.
In a letter denying pretrial diversion for Mr. Lowman, Mr. Bryan wrote that allowing the defendant to expunge the charge from his record could be dangerous to the community.
"The potential damage to society, in particular young girls on whom the defendant becomes focused, is immense," Mr. Bryan wrote. "This was not the 'one-time slip up' or the 'everyone makes a mistake' sort of event that the pretrial diversion statute is directed toward. This is the case of a predator slowly setting his trap, waiting for months, exhibiting cunning and patience for his young quarry."
Judge Stern ruled that prosecutors did not consider all the relevant factors, and she stated that substantial evidence does not support denying Mr. Lowman the opportunity to clear his record.
According to a letter from his psychologist, Dr. Greg Williams, Mr. Lowman "remains free of pornography" and is involved in community worship with his wife and two young children.
Dr. Williams wrote that Mr. Lowman "remains willing to make amends to the young lady and her family for his role in the legal problem," and he does not believe Mr. Lowman "will have any difficulty with this sort of behavior in the future."
Mr. Lowman's case is scheduled to come before Judge Stern again on Nov. 7 so parties can be kept informed of the status of the appeal.
E-mail Brian Lazenby at firstname.lastname@example.org