Prosecutors have released new details about the accusations against a former San Diego County boarding school administrator accused of molesting students, saying he gave his victims drug-laced brownies.
Jeffrey Barton, 55, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 16 felony charges, including oral copulation and forced sodomy.
Barton was a top administrator at the Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad. He has also worked at schools in Tennessee and South Carolina, according to Deputy District Attorney Tracy Prior.
“There are six victims in this case, spanning three separate decades, three separate boarding schools, seven separate school years, all when the defendant was in a position of trust to his victims,” Prior said.
“It doesn’t get more serious than this.”
Prior said the victims are now between 28 and 42 years old. She said they were too ashamed to report the alleged crimes when they happened.
“Most victims keep this a secret forever,” Prior said.
Prior said the alleged incidents took place in Barton’s private cottage at the Army and Navy Academy, in his car, in his office and on overnight trips.
In one of the charges, Prior said Barton used drug-laced baked goods to incapacitate his victims and that his brownies became known around campus.
In court, Barton’s attorney Jim Pokorney said his client is not a risk to public safety and should be released without bail.
“He’s got no priors, not even a traffic ticket,” Pokorney said.
“He holds the justice system very high.”
The judge set Barton’s bail at $3 million.
If convicted, Barton faces life in prison. He is expected to be back in court next week to try to reduce his bail.
Carlsbad Police believe there could be more victims. Anyone with information is asked to call the police hotline at (760) 931-2276.
Prior said another alleged victim has come forward since the charges were announced, but further details regarding that new victim were not released.
Meanwhile, NBC 7 has learned Barton was fired in 1993 from McCallie Private Boys Boarding School and Day School in Chattanooga, Tenn., according to an email from the school.
The email, which was sent to parents of McCallie students, said in part:
In 1993, a single McCallie student informed the school of an incident involving Mr. Barton. The school acted swiftly, first suspending the employee, then reporting the matter to authorities and terminating Mr. Barton's employment.
The school said Barton wasn't criminally charged "due to reasons beyond the school's control." The school said it is cooperating with authorities in California.