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Appeals court reverses molestation conviction for former Carlsbad boarding school head

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Posted at 11:00 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-18 18:07:03-04

CARLSBAD (CNS) -- A state appellate court panel reversed the molestation conviction Friday for a former Carlsbad military boarding school administrator who was tried twice on allegations that he molested a cadet at the Army and Navy Academy.

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 beginning in 1999, when the alleged victim was 14 years old.

Barton was sentenced to 48 years in state prison for the conviction.

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.

The panel ruled Friday that Barton's trial may very well have concluded differently had the 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.

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 those charges.