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7 men lie about sexual abuse?

Or Jeffrey Barton took advantage of them all as boys?

Jeffrey Barton, watching the jury file out of the room, October 30, 2015
  • Jeffrey Barton, watching the jury file out of the room, October 30, 2015

After hearing evidence for five weeks, on October 29 the jury began to hear closing arguments in the child-abuse case against Jeffrey Barton, the former master of schools at Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad. Attorneys are expected to finish up their closing remarks Monday, November 2.

Evidence photo of pills found in Barton's locker

Evidence photo of pills found in Barton's locker

Barton, now 57, pleads not guilty to 20 felony charges, most of which describe sex acts allegedly performed between Barton and victims. There are also allegations that sex acts were performed on unconscious victims; the prosecutor has claimed that Barton fed drug-laced brownies and pizza to his intended victims.

Barton chose not to testify in his own defense.

Prosecutor Tracy Prior

Prosecutor Tracy Prior

In her first closing arguments, prosecutor Tracy Prior told the jury that Barton carefully chose his victims: she declared that he targeted the most vulnerable boys within his reach — the small one or the one who got teased or the boy who was pushed aside during difficult times in his family.

The prosecutor alleged that Barton abused boys over a 30-year career, first at the Aiken Preparatory School in South Carolina, then the McCallie School in Tennessee, and finally at the Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad, where he was arrested two years ago (he has been held in custody since). The prosecutor alleges a pattern of abuse.

Prior said she brought forward seven alleged victims, all adults now, who testified as witnesses, and they described for the jury “the snake in their dreams.”

“The victims told you what they were trying to forget,” the prosecutor said. “Some cried because they regretted not coming forward sooner.”

But defense attorney Daniel Greene questioned the testimony of the seven John Does. “Do you believe them? Beyond a reasonable doubt?” Greene asked to the jury. “It is a credibility issue.” The lead defense attorney told the jury they could not make decisions based on fear, rumor, emotion, or conjecture. “Shock and awe is not evidence,” said Greene, who was the most visible of the team of two attorneys plus two law clerks who are defending Barton.

“Fear and rumor is not evidence,” said Barton's lawyer

“Fear and rumor is not evidence,” said Barton's lawyer

Greene told the jury: “Fear and rumor is not evidence.” He said, “A fable is a made-up story that is repeated over and over again, over the years....

“Mr. Barton is on trial for crimes he didn’t commit,” Greene declared. He asserted that Barton was put on trial because “some people do not like him.” He suggested that Barton appeared odd to some people because he lived alone, was not married, and he chose to live on campus with the students. But, Greene explained, “He is a single man who has devoted his life to being an educator.”

Defense demanded of the jury, “Don’t make decisions based on things you don’t know, on speculation.” Greene reminded the jury that in our system, the accused is innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of proof rests on the prosecutor. “We don’t have to prove a thing.”

Probably guilty is not good enough,” Greene cautioned the jury of six men and six women. Greene is expected to continue his closing argument Monday morning, and then prosecutor Prior will be allowed her final, closing remarks before the jury of six men and six women begin their deliberations.

Prior told the jury early in her remarks: “‘Verdict’ is Latin for ‘truth.’” She said of the trial process, “It’s a search for what the truth is.”

Judge Harry Elias presides over this case in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse in Vista.

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Comments

Let's hope the jury can think clearly and is taking their job seriously.

Yea right seven men come forward to tell how they were victimized by this pervert and his defense lawyer wants the jury to believe that all seven lied. Most men who were victims of sexual abuse when they were boys never tell anyone. Only a very few come forward. It is something that men do not want to acknowledge. If seven came forward you can go to the bank that there are many many more who will never tell their story.

Remember, the defense lawyer is a paid advocate, and must provide a vigorous defense for his/her client. That's the way our legal system works. But some defense attorneys do go "beyond the pale" as Johnnie Cochran did with his outrageous theatrics in getting OJ acquitted (even though he was obviously guilty of murder).

After a week of deliberations, the jury announced Jeffrey Barton not-guilty of four counts, according to Karen Dalton, a spokeswoman for San Diego Superior Courts. Late Friday afternoon, November 6, 2015, the jury sent out a note telling the judge they had reached verdicts on some of the counts, but not others. Honorable judge Harry Elias found that jurors had deadlocked on the other 16 counts. The judge declared a mistrial on those charges and set the next court date for Thursday November 12, to consider what will happen next, regarding the unresolved charges. This matter is being heard in Department 25 of San Diego's North County Superior Courthouse in Vista, California.

Prosecutor Tracy Prior released a statement after the four verdicts and mistrial was declared Friday afternoon: "We respect the jury's verdict and commend the seven victims for their courage in testifying."

The judge decided that Jeffrey Barton must face the remaining 16 felony charges of child abuse, at the end of a hearing late today, November 12, 2015. Prosecutor Tracy Prior said, "Our office fought for the case to remain based on the amount of victims and the compelling nature of their testimony." The prosecutor said that the 7 alleged victims who testified, who are now adult men, were from three different boarding schools, and did not know each other, and had no motivation to lie.

Judge Harry Elias ordered the defendant to continue to be held in custody, in lieu of $1 million bail. "This defendant is a danger to our community in that his pattern of abuse has spanned three decades and so many different communities," the prosecutor said. "We argued for bail to remain extremely high due to the seriousness of the multiple crimes and the danger to the public should he be out of jail."

The prosecutor also repeated her praise of the alleged victims, citing their courage to appear in the public forum. "We will continue to fight for justice in this case," said Pryor.

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