Accuser wants DA to retry ex-Army and Navy Academy headmaster after molestation conviction overturned


The civil attorney for a man who said he was molested years ago by the former headmaster of Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad said Wednesday that his client wants prosecutors to retry the one-time school teacher and administrator a third time.

The request comes a few days after the 4th District Court of Appeal overturned the 2017 conviction of Jeffrey Barton, finding that a trial judge erred in dismissing a reportedly uncooperative juror during deliberations.

Attorney Alex Cunny, with the Orange County law firm that represents the accuser in a civil case targeting Barton and the school, said his client is willing to take the stand at a third criminal trial. The accuser was a 14-year-old cadet at the Carlsbad military boarding school in 1999 when he first encountered Barton, who was then a teacher.

“Holding Jeffrey Barton accountable for what (Barton) did to(the accuser) at such a young age is important, and he realizes the importance of that,” Cunny said of his client, who has not been publicly identified because he was a minor at the time of the alleged molestation.

The accuser said he was molested over several months until he left the school.

Whether Barton will be retried remains a question. On Wednesday, San Diego County district attorney spokeswoman Tanya Sierra said the office is “exploring our appellate options, which include retrial.” She also said the office has “contacted the victims who testified in the case and are working to provide them support.”

For now, Barton, 62, remains a state prison inmate. He has long maintained that he is innocent.

The case against Barton started when the accuser first came forward in June 2013. Carlsbad police investigated and found several other accusers who had been Barton’s students in different boarding schools. The alleged encounters happened in three states and dated back to the 1980s. Several of the accusers were strangers to each other.

In October 2013, police arrested Barton, who by that point had risen to headmaster of the Army and Navy Academy, the school’s top administrative job. The charges focused only on Barton’s time at the military school, which he joined in the 1990s.

In 2017, after the first jury acquitted Barton on some counts and deadlocked on the others, a second North County jury heard the case.

That jury convicted Barton of six molestation counts — five counts of oral copulation and one count of forcible sodomy — and acquitted him of five additional counts. Superior Court Judge Harry Elias sentenced Barton to 48 years in prison, the maximum he could give.

But during deliberations, the veteran trial judge removed a juror who other jurors said had stopped engaging in the talks. With a new juror added, the panel quickly reached a verdict.

On Friday, the appellate court overturned the conviction, agreeing that the removal of the juror for refusing to deliberate “was not manifestly supported by the evidence.”

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