Ex-headmaster at Carlsbad boarding school is partially acquitted in molestation trial

Jeffrey Barton, the former head of schools at the Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad, was partially acquitted of molestation charges.
Jeffrey Barton, the former head of schools at the Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad, was partially acquitted of molestation charges.
(Misael Virgen / San Diego Union-Tribune)

A former Army and Navy Academy headmaster was acquitted Friday on four of five charges that he had molested two cadets during a 1997 ski trip. The jury deadlocked on charges that he molested another cadet repeatedly from 1999 to 2001.

After five days of deliberations, Vista Superior Court Judge Harry Elias declared a mistrial when jurors indicated they were split 11-1 on some of the remaining counts. They did not indicate which way the majority was leaning.

The defendant, Jeffrey Barton, 57, had faced 20 felony charges — including oral copulation and sodomy — dating to when he was a teacher at the 105-year-old seaside boarding school in Carlsbad. Because the accusers only recently came forward with their allegations, state law allowed prosecutors to bring a case.


Barton’s attorney, Dan Greene, called the verdicts “a testament to our system of justice” and said his client “appreciates the jury’s service, but he is still waiting for final justice.”

It’s unclear whether the district attorney’s office will opt to retry Barton, who remains jailed in lieu of $5.2-million bail. Elias set a hearing for Thursday to discuss the remaining charges.

Barton became head of schools at the campus in 2012. He resigned that post in June 2013, shortly after a former cadet accused Barton of molesting him, starting in 1999 when he was in ninth grade. The ensuing investigation uncovered more accusers, all of whom are now adults.

The jury heard from four additional accusers whose allegations date to the mid-1980s and cover two additional boarding schools in other states. The jury was allowed to consider their testimony as potentially corroborating evidence.

The case rested heavily on the word of the seven men; Barton did not testify.

Carlsbad police twice before had investigated Barton, once in 2000 and again in 2010, after adults reported suspicious behavior with cadets. In each case, the boy involved denied abuse, and the investigations fizzled.

The accuser whose allegations sparked the 2013 probe is the same person who 13 years earlier had denied abuse.


Teri Figueroa writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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