The attorney for 56-year-old Jeffrey Barton, former administrator at the Army Navy Academy in Carlsbad, abruptly cancelled a bail hearing on Friday, October 24, immediately after a judge said he would allow news cameras to record the proceeding.
In October 2013, Barton was arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing some of the boys in his care. His bail has ranged between $3 million to $9 million, after different hearings; currently his bail stands at $6 million.
Barton enjoyed high regard by colleagues at the academy because he secured “one of the biggest donors in the history” of that institution, prosecutor Tracy Prior stated in court papers. She declared concern that “just one donor could bail defendant out and put the public at risk.”
A grand jury heard evidence in May of this year, after which Barton was indicted on 22 counts. One more count was added soon after that hearing. Barton has pleaded not guilty to all charges and allegations.
Prosecutor Prior claims she has “independent corroboration” for each of the 23 child-abuse charges, which include multiple forcible sodomies. The prosecutor claims she has assembled eight victims.
The alleged victims suspect that Barton drugged them, and the prosecutor claims that investigators discovered Barton had prescriptions for several drugs, including Zolpidem, Alprazolam, Clonazepam, and Hydrocodone. The prosecutor stated these are intended to induce sleep, and she theorized that Barton might have combined the drugs for “worse effect.”
The grand jury heard testimony that victims “could not move,” blacked out, or went into a semi-conscious state after Barton gave them pizza, brownies, or homemade cookies.
Investigators searched Barton’s locker in April of 2014 and found Zolpidem and Alprazolam; some of the tablets were broken up and some were crushed into powder, the prosecutor stated in court papers.
One alleged victim testified that he was invited to an overnight snowboard trip with Barton, and he passed out after he “ate defendant’s brownies”; the next day he experienced rectal soreness and bleeding. That alleged victim, John Doe Number Three, was 13 years old at the time.
The grand jury heard a witness claim he saw Barton “sprinkling something on a pizza before presenting that pizza to two boys,” the prosecutor stated in court papers.
The prosecutor said investigators seized a black Speedo bathing suit allegedly described by some of the alleged victims in their graphic reports.
In papers filed for the bail hearing deputy district attorney Prior vigorously argued against any reduction in bail, stating that the defendant would then have access to more potential victims. In her statement, Prior reminded the court that in determining bail, “the public safety shall be the primary consideration.”
“The case is as serious as it gets,” Prior asserted.
The prosecutor claims Barton molested boys at three boarding schools during the past 30 years.
“For multiple summers, defendant has traveled to other countries and other locations to run summer camps with access to boys. As recent as the summer of 2013, defendant went to England where he is the director of a summer camp. It has been reported that defendant has mentored boys in Ecuador, Venezuela, and Spain.”
Barton was fired from a boys’ school in Tennessee 20 years ago because of abuse, the prosecutor alleges. In that case, the boy and his family declined to cooperate with prosecution because they feared public shame; then Barton sued the school for wrongful termination and won a $5000 settlement and an agreement from that school that if there were any inquiries about Barton’s sudden departure, the school would reply “We have no comment.”
Prior claims that Barton kept paperwork regarding that settlement with the McCallie School for Boys “hidden in the back of his vehicle, underneath a floor mat near the spare tire.”
That same alleged victim from 20 years ago, now a grown man, “feels incredibly guilty that his family made that decision so long ago” and now believes that if they had gone forward with criminal prosecution “maybe defendant would not have gotten hired at Army Navy Academy and molested other boys,” the prosecutor stated in her filing.
Barton was “Head of Schools” at the military academy in Carlsbad when he was arrested. He was employed there from 1994 until his arrest in 2013. He is accused of molesting boys from 13 to 15 years of age.
“One victim reports that he was molested in excess of 50 times in suspect’s private residence, suspect’s office, and suspect’s car, as well on overnight trips suspect planned,” the prosecutor stated.
Last week, defense attorney Daniel Greene had asked the court to release Barton on his own recognizance. Judge Harry Elias declined, but instead set a bail hearing because the prosecutor wanted to give the alleged victims a chance to offer information to the court.
This case is set for trial in February of next year in San Diego’s North County Superior Court.