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Wendy Reuer, Published October 29 2013

Fargo native faces sex abuse allegations at California military boarding school

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Police here are concerned a former military school leader and Fargo native may have sexually abused victims anywhere he once worked or lived.

Carlsbad police arrested Jeffrey S. Barton, 56, on Oct. 17 on allegations he sexually molested at least six former students whom he mentored at the Army and Navy Academy.

According to court documents filed in the Superior Court of California, Barton faces 14 felony counts of forcible oral copulation and two counts of sodomy by use of force.

He faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted of all the charges.

After graduating from North Dakota State University, Barton went to work in Texas, then South Carolina and New Hampshire with stints of international travel throughout the years.

Barton was employed by the Army and Navy Academy from 1995 until he resigned his post of top administrator earlier this year, police said in a statement.

The Army and Navy Academy is the only military boarding school in California. More than 300 boys in grades seven through 12 attend classes and live in dormitories on the 17-acre campus just outside of Carlsbad.

Carlsbad is an affluent community of about 106,000 that sits along the Pacific coast north of San Diego.

A spokeswoman for the Carlsbad Police Department said there have been no other crimes of a similar nature at the school. The school has cooperated with police, who began an investigation in June after an adult victim reported he was abused by Barton. After the victim came forward, police identified additional victims, a statement said.

Barton is in the San Diego County Jail on $3 million bail, according to jail records.

Prosecutor Tracy Prior requested a high bail, citing Barton’s access to children around the world, court documents said.

At a news conference following Barton’s plea hearing Oct. 23, Prior told reporters, “The defendant’s pattern of abuse has spanned three different decades, three separate boarding schools, seven separate school years where the defendant was in a position of trust to each of his middle school-aged boy victims.”

A police spokeswoman said victims and witnesses of possible abuse by Barton are asked to call the police department hotline at (760) 931-2276.

The investigation of Barton remains open, she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530