REGION — Jeffrey Barton, former Army and Navy Academy headmaster, was found guilty on six of 11 felony counts of child molestation. The now 59-year-old was charged with forced sex acts with a minor.
The guilty verdict came at Baron’s retrial, which concluded in June. John Manly, founding partner of the law firm of Manly, Stewart and Finaldi, which served the victim’s representative during the criminal trial, said the guilty verdict sends a “strong message.”
“The jury’s action in this case removes a dangerous predator from our community and sends a strong message to our educational institutions — you have a responsibility to carefully vet your employees and take decisive action to protect the children under your care,” Manly said.
During the retrial two other alleged victims testified about similar acts by Barton at other boarding schools in the mid-1980s. Barton did not testify, but other employees of the academy did.
Repeated molestation of the victim took place between 1999 and 2001, on and off the academy grounds.
Attorney Alex Cunny, of Manly, Stewart and Finaldi, said the earlier trial and recent retrial have taken a mental toll on the victim, who continues to carry the emotional burden of what transpired.
“He’s a really strong guy,” Cunny said. “Shedding light on Jeff Barton is not easy. To tell strangers about something really horrible that happened is never easy.”
The academy did not specifically reply to The Coast News on when or how the organization parted ways with Barton.
“Mr. Barton’s criminal acts against a former cadet took place 17 years ago while he was a teacher, coach, and summer programs director — well before the current administration and Board of Trustees were in place,” a statement from the academy read. “The circumstances leading up to and during the criminal trial against a former academy employee, Jeffrey Barton, have been challenging to all of us in the Army and Navy Academy family.”
The Army and Navy Academy, which is located on Carlsbad Boulevard in Carlsbad, was established in 1910. It offers middle school through high school education for boys and dormitory stay on campus.
“As we move forward, our commitment to the safety, health and well being of our cadets and employees continues to be unwavering,” the academy said.
On Aug. 7, Barton was sentenced to 48 years in prison.
Cunny said a civil suit is pending against Barton and negligence of the academy. He said the lawsuit intends to hold the school responsible and “make sure this doesn’t happen to another cadet.”
“Our hope is to continue moving forward for full justice,” Cunny said.
Cunny said the boarding academy poses unique circumstances for students who need to be kept in check.
“The military academy teaches values, respect, obedience, following instructions, no talking back and no questioning, absolutely they’re (students are) vulnerable,” Cunny said.
During Barton’s time as headmaster former academy employee Juan Munoz was found guilty of sexual assault against former student Delco Hunter Hagan.
Details of the case report that Munoz went to Hagan’s room at the academy, plied him with alcohol to the point of passing out and sexually assaulted him.
Munoz and the academy were found liable for $1,885,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. The academy was found to be 70 percent liable.
Manly, Stewart and Finaldi represent several alleged victims of Barton in civil suits against the Army and Navy Academy, which have not yet gone to trial.
The academy said current teachers and staff provide high quality education and parents and alumni express continued confidence and support for the school.
The pending civil trial against Barton and the academy is scheduled to go to court in March 2018.