55-year-old Jeffery Barton, the former top administrator of the Army and Navy Academy military boarding school in Carlsbad, has been charged with molesting numerous students from 1997 to 2001. Earlier this week, Barton pleaded not guilty to 16 felony counts of sexually abusing two cadets at the boarding school. If found guilty, Barton could be looking at 15 years to life in federal prison. All of the alleged victims are said to have been students of the academy when the molestations occurred. Deputy District Attorney Tracy Prior filed 16 felony charges against Barton, composed of two counts of sodomy by force and 14 counts of oral copulation by force. Each of these charges holds a potential sentence of up to eight years in prison, however due to being charged with multiple accusations of molestation, prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 15 years to life. The 13-page long complaint goes into detail about Barton’s victims. Starting at the young age of 14, one victim was allegedly molested by Barton continuously from 1999 to 2001. The molestations reportedly occurred in Barton’s office, in his home on the campus, in his car, on an overnight ski trip to Big Bear, and during an overnight rock-climbing trip to Joshua Tree. It also discusses a proposed “open doors and blinds” policy that Barton overruled and a bout of angry behavior Burton expressed towards a coworker for questioning one of the students about his overnight trips with Barton. Under California state law, certain serious sex crimes can be charged after the 10-year statue of limitations has passed under the requirement that the victim was under 18 years of age at the time of the crime and that there is evidence to validate the victim’s claims. Barton is currently jailed on a $6 million bail.
After the first victim came forward in June of this year, and extensive investigation began. Since then, seven accusers have come forth with similar testimonies. Barton promptly resigned in June once the first of the accusations was out, after working 18 years at the private academy and reaching head of schools as the administrator in charge of academic and residential programs. Before reaching this position, Barton worked for four years as the head of the academy’s lower school grade 7-9 and had been in charge of the school’s summer program. The second victim reported his accusations earlier this month. The most recent court documents for the case that were obtained earlier this week details a long history of suspicious signs and allegations against Barton. Included in these papers were stories of children whose disclosures to parents about Barton’s actions against them were simply brushed aside or dismissed as phony, of employees who were concerned something was not right, and of prior police investigations cut short when the victims suddenly and questionably denied abuse. Barton’s accusers say they initially feared skepticism, retribution, and teasing by their peers, keeping them from speaking up all these years until now. Despite these horrendous accusations, a court filing Barton submitted was comprised of a stack of letters from people attesting to his solid character and excellent work performance. An attorney who has performed legal work for the academy, wrote one of the letters in which he stated, “I do not believe he is guilty of the charges against him.” Nonetheless, any criminal defense lawyer taking on a case as abounding as Barton’s has his or her work cut out for them.