VISTA — Former Army and Navy Academy (ANA) administrator Jeffery Barton entered pleas of not guilty to 16 counts of forcible sex acts with minors at an Oct. 23 hearing at the Vista Courthouse.
The current charges represent the latest of several child sexual abuse accusations against Barton from over the past 30 years, according to the prosecution.
The present investigation was opened in June when a victim, now an adult, reported to police that Barton had sexually abused him while he was a student at ANA.
Since then, six other victims have come forward with claims that Barton sexually abused them as children when they were students at the three boarding schools Barton has been employed with.
Barton has worked at ANA for the past 18 years.
He resigned from his position as Head of Schools in June when the police investigation began. The school, at the time of his resignation, stated that he was leaving to pursue other career interests.
Barton was arrested at his Oceanside home on Oct. 17 shortly after 5 p.m. and is being held in the Vista Detention Facility.
The investigation is ongoing to identify other possible victims and witnesses.
Barton, 55, has been charged with 14 felony counts of oral copulation by force with a child and two felony counts of sodomy by force with a child. If convicted, he faces a sentence of 15-years to life in prison.
Fifteen of the charges accuse Barton of molesting a cadet from 1999 to 2001, starting when the student was 14 years old. The complaint alleges that the acts were conducted in Barton’s home on campus, office, car, and a hotel during an overnight trip.
The last charge in the case alleges that Barton sodomized another 14-year-old cadet during an overnight snowboarding trip sometime in 1997 or 1998.
It is not immediately clear why charges have not been brought forth involving the remaining five victims.
Deputy District Attorney Tracy Prior stated that the victims did not come forward at the time of the alleged abuse due to embarrassment and fear that they would not be believed due to Barton’s connections throughout the academy’s administration.
During the hearing, Prior stated that the earliest claims of sexual abuse dates back to 1983. She disclosed that the molestation accusations span throughout Barton’s employment at two other boys boarding schools, Aiken Preparatory School in South Carolina and McCallie Private Boys Boarding School in Tennessee.
Prior also mentioned that several of the victims claimed that Barton fed them baked goods that later made them feel groggy and eventually black out before the molestation occurred.
In an attempt to reduce Barton’s $6 million bail, his defense attorney James Pokorny argued that Barton did not present any current danger to the community and does not pose a flight risk. He pointed out that the most recent alleged acts addressed in this case occurred 12 years ago.
“That’s history,” Pokorny said.
Arguing against a bail reduction, Prior emphasized Barton’s alleged “pattern of abuse” of middle school-aged boys over the past three decades. She also said that it is still possible for other potential victims to come forward with claims of more recent abuse.
She said that despite the investigation, Barton taught at a school for boys in London this summer after leaving his position at ANA.
Judge Marshall Hockett stated that he found Barton to be “an extreme danger to this community,” but lowered bail to $3 million to avoid holding him on excessive bail. He ruled that if Barton does post bail, he cannot have any contact with the victims, the school, or children unless another adult is present, and cannot leave San Diego County without prior permission from a judge.
“We are deeply concerned since nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of our cadets — past and present,” said ANA President and retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Bliss in a statement.
Barton held such positions at the school as English teacher, swim coach and summer school director.
Bliss stated that the academy has fully cooperated with Carlsbad Police during the investigation and postponed its own internal investigation to avoid interfering with that of the police. Now that an arrest has been made, they will resume their independent investigation.
The school will not provide any additional information about the specifics of the case or involved individuals until the investigation is complete, Bliss said.
“Protecting children is the police department’s highest priority,” said City of Carlsbad Police Chief Gary Morrison in a statement. “We are equally outraged by the possibility of such a crime occurring in our community.”
Other potential victims and witnesses are asked to call the Carlsbad Police at (760) 931-2276.
Founded in 1910, the ANA is as a military boarding school for over 300 boys grades seven through twelve.