By SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN
ST. PETERSBURG — Attorney James Patrick Stanton, accused of secretly videotaping nude and partially clothed female employees of a Tampa company, has agreed to never practice law again in Florida.
Before a brief hearing today, Stanton signed a consent to disbarment. That means he would be permanently disbarred without admitting to any of the allegations or violations of Florida Bar rules.
The consent agreement, which also was signed by two Bar attorneys, still must approved by the Florida Supreme Court.
"I wish you the best of luck going forward," Pinellas Circuit Judge Thomas Ramsberger told Stanton. The 43-year-old attorney, who has been practicing since 1999, later declined to comment on his plans.
Ramsberger, serving as the referee in the Bar's case against Stanton, had set aside several days for a hearing into the allegations that Stanton videotaped women showering, using the toilet and changing clothes in restrooms at MaintenX International, a facility maintenance company where Stanton worked as corporate counsel.
Among those expected to testify at the hearing was former MaintenX enployee Jeremy Lenkowski, who was repairing Stanton's laptop in 2010 when found the videos. In a lawsuit he later filed, Lenkowski said he told top MaintenX executives about the videotapes but said nothing was done by the company except to remove the cameras and instruct Stanton to get counseling.
After leaving the company in 2014, Lenkowski turned the videos over to Tampa police, who arrested Stanton on 123 felony counts of video voyeurism. Prosecutors reduced the charges to misdemeanors, and a judge dismissed them altogether after Stanton's lawyers argued that the statute of limitations had expired.
Although he escaped prosecution, the Bar charged Stanton with violating several rules of professional conduct. He petitioned the Supreme Court for a disciplinary revocation, which would have resulted in disbarment but allowed him to apply for readmission to the Bar. However, the court denied the petition after the Bar said Stanton had failed to state, as required, all past and pending investigations and proceedings against him.
In 2014, five "Janes Does" sued Stanton, MaintenX and other defendants in Hillsborough County Circuit Court. A Tampa attorney representing the women, Steven Parker, said today that the claims against Stanton had been settled confidentially but that neither he nor the women could comment.
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at smartin@tampabay or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate