REGION — A grand jury has indicted former Army and Navy Academy (ANA) administrator Jeffrey Barton for allegedly committing forcible sex acts on four ANA students.
The new indictment brings forth one new victim, another ANA student, and incorporates multiple new felony charges.
Barton, 56, pled not guilty to 23 total charges that accuse him of intoxicating and sexually abusing the male victims, who were minors at the time. He entered his plea at an arraignment hearing on May 30 at the San Diego Superior Court’s central courthouse downtown.
The District Attorney’s office originally charged Barton with 16 felony crimes from three ANA victims in a criminal complaint last fall. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for mid-May 2014 for a judge to determine if the District Attorney’s office had enough evidence to bring the charges against Barton in a trial.
Barton decided to select new attorneys to represent him sometime between mid-April and mid-May, which delayed the preliminary hearing to October this year.
After Barton’s change in representation, the District Attorney’s office determined to try to have Barton indicted by a grand jury instead of conducting a preliminary hearing.
Seeking an indictment by a grand jury avoided having victims wait longer to testify and further delaying the trial, according to deputy district attorney Tracy Prior, who is prosecuting the case.
The District Attorney’s office presented an initial 22 charges against Barton before 19 grand jurors, all private citizens, over the course of a week in May.
The four ANA victims as well as three victims from other boarding schools testified before the grand jury, Prior said. All seven alleged victims are adults today.
The charges from the former ANA students allege that Barton forcibly committed sex acts on them when they were minors from 1995 to 2001. The charges claim that Barton fondled their genitals, committed oral copulation and committed sodomy. Some charges accuse Barton of intoxicating the students with drugged homemade baked goods.
The acts allegedly occurred on overnight trips as well as in Barton’s car and private ANA cottage.
The most recent charges stem from a former ANA student who claims that starting when he was 14 years old, Barton committed various sex acts on him about fifty times from 1999 to 2001.
Three other victims are mentioned in the indictment, but no charges have been brought forward on their behalf.
The three victims claim that from 1983 to 1993 Barton intoxicated and committed sex acts on them. At the time of the alleged incidents, the victims were students at Aiken Preparatory School in South Carolina and McCallie School in Tennessee, where Barton worked.
The grand jury decided that there was enough evidence to indict Barton on all 22 charges, Prior said.
A 23rd charge was later added to the indictment based on the testimony of one of the victims before the grand jury.
Barton’s new attorneys argued against the use of a grand jury indictment during the May 30 hearing, saying that Barton deserves the preliminary hearing he was promised.
“Mr. Barton wants nothing more than to have his day in court so he can meet and defend against these charges,” said Dan Greene of the Law Office of Kerry Armstrong.
A press release sent to media before the hearing by Barton’s former attorney, Jim Pokorny, implied that the District Attorney’s office sought a grand jury indictment months after the initial charges were brought forward because San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is up for reelection Tuesday, June 3.
While Greene stated that he would not speculate on whether the indictment was politically motivated, he said during the hearing, “The facts are that there is an election next Tuesday.”
Judge Kathleen Lewis affirmed that the prosecution was within its rights to file an indictment.
“I don’t see if there is any political motivation to that,” she said.
Barton will face the 23 charges during trial. If he is convicted, he faces life in prison.
Greene also argued in court to have Barton’s $6 million bail lowered, but Lewis denied the request.
Barton is being held in custody at San Diego Central Jail.
The investigation against Barton was started in June 2013 when a victim reported to Carlsbad police that Barton sexually abused him when he was a student at ANA several years ago.
Barton worked at ANA for 18 years, most recently in the position of Head of Schools, and resigned when the investigation began. He was arrested in his Oceanside home on Oct. 17, 2013.
The District Attorney’s office is asking that anyone with any information about Barton or the charges he is facing call 760-806-4064.