The attorney for a man accused of abusing boys at the Army Navy Academy in Carlsbad asked for the case to be dismissed on January 30. The judge declined; however, he did dismiss 3 of the 23 charges that Jeffrey Barton had faced.
Superior Court judge Harry Elias found there was incorrect instruction during a previous grand jury hearing (regarding a witness’ credibility) on one count; plus, he declared an insufficiency of evidence for two other counts.
Barton is accused of sexually abusing boys aged 13 to 15 years old. He had been employed at the school since 1994 and was “Head of Schools” when accusations surfaced in June 2013. Barton was arrested in October of 2013 and has been in custody since.
Legal maneuvering by defense continuously postponed and delayed a preliminary hearing — which would have revealed details in the case — until the prosecutor resorted to a grand-jury indictment in May of 2014, according to reliable sources.
After the judge dismissed three counts, defense attorney Daniel Greene asked for a reduction in bail, citing the reduction in charges. The judge then reduced bail from $6 million to $5.22 million, calculating the new amount by the percentage of charges that had been reduced.
Barton enjoyed high regard at the military school because he secured “one of the biggest donors in the history” of that institution, according to prosecutor Tracy Prior. The prosecutor has voiced concern in the past that Barton might be able to bail out, even with high bail.
When Barton was brought into court on Friday afternoon he was handcuffed and wearing black-framed glasses and a sparse, gray mustache. He turned 57 years old in November.
Barton’s attorney argued for more than an hour, asking for the entire case to be dismissed. Greene claimed that the grand jury “got one-sided information,” which was not “rebutted,” and that the prosecution had presented hearsay, rumor, and conjecture as evidence.
The defense attorney also stated that Barton had been encouraged by school officials to give “special attention” to one student because his family had assets that could potentially benefit the school financially.
Prior claimed that Barton had given certain boys expensive gifts; for example, a cell phone and surfboard.
During argument, the attorneys seemed to suggest that rumors about Barton went around the school, and at least one student slept with a knife under his bed; that boy allegedly told the grand jury that it was in case Barton tried to enter his room.
It was suggested that some boys refused to eat home-made “baked goods” that Barton offered because there were rumors that he drugged his victims; Barton allegedly became “upset” and even threw “tantrums” at the refusals.
The prosecutor has alleged in prior statements that Barton drugged his victims with “date rape drugs.” The accused man had prescriptions for Zolpidem, Alprazolam, Clonazepam, and Hydrocodone, and some of those drugs were found in his locker, according to prosecution.
Local news media outlets have tried to demand release of the grand jury transcripts, and Judge Elias set a date of February 13 to review those transcripts with attorneys in order to redact sensitive information, in anticipation of eventual release to news media.
Jury selection for this case is now set for May 18. The judge said the trial may last a month.