A man who claimed he was abused at a military academy when he was 14 said he feared his abuser would kill him if he revealed the abuse, according to grand jury transcripts made available this week.
The man, identified as John Doe Number One, said that when he became upset after being abused, Jeffrey Barton told him he’d already been “falsely accused of being a molester, a pedophile.” The alleged victim told the grand jury that he understood the point. “He also told me that he’d beaten the case.”
Barton, now 57, denies molesting boys at the Army Navy Academy in Carlsbad, where he was head of schools for almost 20 years.
“That’s what he told me, he had lawyers,” the accuser said. “He said his dad paid for a bunch of lawyers and that’s why he beat it, his dad had a bunch of money. That’s the effect it had on me — this guy was untouchable, he already had been accused.”
A grand jury heard evidence for one week during a series of unpublicized hearings in May 2014. Neither the accused nor his attorney were present.
The alleged victim, who is now an adult, testified: “I really was scared for my life because for me, I know how serious a charge of saying somebody is a pedophile is, they will go to prison for life.” The witness responded to inquiries as to why he did not immediately report the alleged abuse.
“I was afraid that, honestly, if I brought it to that point, then what does he have to lose? Why wouldn’t he just kill me? I was afraid for that, I was really scared.”
John Doe Number One said he believed no one would take his side against the powerful school administrator. “With the teachers, he’d be, like, ‘Do you know who I am?’ He was Jeff Barton, he was the president’s friend, always he represented himself that he was the president’s best friend….
“He’s the only person that lived on campus besides the president — even the commandant didn’t live on campus.” The accuser claimed he was molested most often in Barton’s home, located at the academy.
The witness said he was sent away to the school because his mother, who lived more than four hours away from Carlsbad, “had a new boyfriend.” The alleged victim said his father had died when he was quite young and “You know, I didn’t have a lot of father figures or whatever.” He described himself as “small.”
John Doe said that Barton often contacted his mother. “He’s, like, ‘Oh, no, no, no, I know how to handle this. I’m a guy, I understand, I can be his male influence’ or whatever.” The witness remembered his mother “was very receptive to that.” The witness said of Barton: “He made himself the saint to my mother.”
John Doe said he wanted to go to a regular high school in his own hometown with his friends. His mother had told him if he did well that year at the military academy and did not get into any trouble, he could come home. “So, my only way out of there was to put up with what I had to deal with for this year in order to get out of there.” Altogether, he was at the academy for 18 months.
The witness said he was in the ninth grade and met Barton “right at the beginning” and “He was my homeroom teacher.” The homeroom class lasted 10 or 15 minutes every day, just before the first-period class, he said.
“He had keys to everybody’s room, he could get anybody in trouble, he could get you demerits or whatever.”
John Doe Number One said that he and Barton went on overnight trips to Big Bear, Joshua Tree, and Vegas. “He would offer these trips up. He would sell them to my mom and then I would be stuck going on the trips.” Allegedly, molestations happened in Barton’s car, during overnight trips, and in Barton’s office on the campus, according to the witness. “The majority of the time was in his home.”
The accuser was asked to estimate how many times he was molested. “I don’t know. But probably 50 or more. Fifty to seventy, eighty. I don’t know.”
The alleged victim said his grandfather was a Marine and was so happy that his grandson was going to a military academy. After his grandfather died, in June of 2013, this witness then revealed the abuse to his mother, and she was the one who contacted Carlsbad police.
“I know that he fully took advantage of a 14-year old-boy. I’m old enough now to try and understand it,” John Doe Number One told the grand jury.
Jury trial for Barton is set to begin next month, on May 14, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse. He denies all charges.