Fugitive Lawyer Arrested on Child Sex Charges

An alert hotel clerk helped police nab a fugitive lawyer facing charges that he paid for sex with two girls with the approval of their mother.

James Colliton, 42, formerly a tax attorney at the prestigious Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, pleaded not guilty Friday before Justice Charles Solomon in Manhattan's state Supreme Court.

The judge ordered the defendant jailed without bail and scheduled a hearing for March 8.

Prosecutors said Colliton had in effect been renting the teenage girls from their 38-year-old mother. The lawyer started with a 15-year-old daughter in 2000 and continued until 2004, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said.

In 2004, he said, Colliton began having sex with a second daughter, then 13, and continued until last month when the girl told child welfare workers what was going on.

Colliton was spotted Friday by a St. Mark's Hotel clerk who recognized him from a newspaper photograph and called police, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said. "The clerk was alert," Morgenthau said.

Police arrested Colliton alone in his room shortly after 10:30 a.m.

He "had a bag with a lot of cash in it and a lot of American Express gift cards," Morgenthau said. He said Colliton had 30 to 40 gift cards and police said he had about $10,000 cash.

Colliton, who has a wife and five children living in Poughkeepsie in upstate New York, was originally captured last weekend in a hotel in Grimsby, Ontario, near Toronto. Morgenthau said Friday it remained unclear why he was released.

Assistant District Attorney Rachel Hochhauser said Colliton had learned that the Administration for Children's Services had contacted police.

"From that day he began a barrage of phone calls and repeated efforts to stop these girls from making his involvement known," she said.

Colliton could face up to seven years in prison if convicted of any of the top charges of second-degree rape, patronizing a prostitute or bribing a witness.

The mother, whose name was withheld to protect her daughters' identities, was indicted on charges of promoting prostitution and endangering a child's welfare. She was jailed on $100,000 bail.