CARLSBAD (CNS) – Attorneys for the alleged victims of a former Carlsbad military boarding school headmaster whose molestation conviction was overturned last week by a state appellate panel asked the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office Wednesday to appeal the ruling or retry the case against him.
Jeffrey Barton, 62, was convicted in 2017 of five felony counts of forcible oral copulation and one felony count of forcible sodomy for allegedly molesting a cadet at the Army and Navy Academy beginning in 1999, when the alleged victim was 14 years old.
Barton was sentenced to 48 years in state prison.
A three-justice panel from the Fourth District Court of Appeal agreed with Barton’s contentions that the trial judge should not have dismissed one of the jurors during the trial and reversed the conviction on Friday.
Attorney John Manly, whose firm represents four alleged victims in civil suits filed against Barton and the academy, said, “We disagree with the ruling of the court of appeal. Jeffrey Barton is a serial sexual predator who is known to have sexually molested at least six boys in horrific ways. The evidence against him is overwhelming and we ask District Attorney Stephan to appeal this decision and, if necessary, retry this case in the interest of justice and public safety.”
So far, two of those civil suits have been settled and two are pending.
A District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman said, “We have contacted the victims who testified in the case and are working to provide them support. At this time, we are exploring our appellate options, which include retrial.”
The convictions came in Barton’s second trial.
In his first trial, almost two years before, a different jury deadlocked on the charges involving the alleged victim.
Two other former Army and Navy Academy students testified in the first trial that they were molested by Barton, but the defendant was acquitted on all but one of the counts involving those victims.
The appellate panel ruled that Barton’s second trial could have concluded differently had one juror not been excused, allegedly for refusing to deliberate with her fellow panelists.
The justices wrote in their ruling that the other jurors appeared to disagree with Juror No. 12, but did not provide enough of a showing that she was actively stalling deliberations.
The ruling indicates the juror did not appear to find the alleged victim credible.
“The trial court’s error in discharging Juror No. 12 warrants reversal,” the panel wrote. “She was the lone holdout juror who consistently held to her belief Barton was not guilty and, had she remained on the jury, it is reasonably probable the case would have ended in a mistrial, a more favorable result for Barton than conviction.”
The panel wrote that Barton was convicted “within hours” of the juror being discharged.