A former lawyer at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, who was accused of leading a double life of upstate family man and Manhattan pervert, pleaded guilty yesterday to statutory rape and patronizing a prostitute. James Colliton spent his weekends at his home in Poughkeepsie, NY with his wife and five children. During the week, he stayed at a residence on 56th St. and Park Ave. where he now admits that he had sex with two teenage sisters over a long period of time. Colliton paid their mother so he could have the young girls at his beck and call, but supposedly had one of the two live with him for a time. The girls' mother pleaded guilty in 2006 to offering her daughters to Colliton in exchange for money, cell phones, and clothes, and received a 90 day sentence for child endangerment.
Because of the guilty plea, which involved a one-year sentence, Colliton is eligible for release immediately because he's already been in jail for 19 months. The lenient deal may have to do with the fact that the prosecution's case was disintegrating. Before her guilty plea, the girls' mother insisted that she was innocent and the younger of the two sisters changed her story, saying that she was coerced into accusing the lawyer by her older sister, who allegedly failed to get money out of Colliton after becoming pregnant by another man. Nonetheless, Colliton ran for it and was eventually arrested by Ontario police at a Niagra Falls hotel, but mistakenly released. The law eventually found the lawyer holed up at the St. Mark's Hotel in the East Village.
Prosecutors claim they have tapes of Colliton begging the two sisters not to implicate him and accused the man of keeping "a harem" of as many as ten underage girls. Colliton's lawyer, however, says that he has a number of affidavits from the girls' relatives saying that they were lying and the girls' own mother was willing to testify in his defense, despite her prior guilty plea. Colliton's wife doesn't believe the charges and says that her husband accepted the deal, which will require that he register as a sex offender, to avoid a prison stretch that could have lasted decades.