NBC10 Philadelphia - Deanna Durante
New Jersey mom, Patricia Krentcil is accused of taking her five-year-old daughter into a tanning booth causing her to become burned. She pleaded not guilty Wednesday to child endangerment charges. Owner of the Tropics Tanning Salon said Krentcil's daughter waited outside of the salon with her father on the day of the incident. NBC10's Deanna Durante reports.
A Nutley, N.J. mother is facing charges after police said she brought her 5-year-old daughter into a tanning booth.
It caused the girl to suffer burns to her body, according to the Essex County prosecutor's office.
Patricia Krentcil, who herself is very tan, was charged with second-degree child endangerment.
No one under the age of 14 is allowed to use a tanning booth, according to New Jersey state law.
Krentcil, 44, told The Associated Press her daughter got sunburned by being outside on a recent warm day. She said her daughter, however, had mentioned to school officials when she complained of itching that she had been to a tanning salon with her mother.
"We went for a walk and I tanned," said Krentcil. "She doesn't tan. It's called a tanning booth and a tanning room. I'm in the booth, she's in the room. That's all there is to it."
Krentcil's husband Richard maintained his wife's innocence.
"She was outside Tuesday and it was 85 degrees out," said Richard. "She got sunburned. That's it. That's all that happened."
The owner of City Tropics Salon in Nutley, who only identified himself as Anthony, said employees who were there on the day in question told him the girl remained outside with her father and brother and didn't go into the tanning booth while Krentcil was inside.
He said a sign is posted in the salon that refers to the state law barring minors from tanning.
“I would never harm a child,” he said. “I have seven kids of my own. It's just ridiculous.”
Krentcil was released on $25,000 bail but was transferred to Camden Police headquarters for a bench warrant there, according to the prosecutor's office.
Through her attorney John Caruso, Krentcil entered a plea of not guilty Wednesday in Superior Court to a charge of child endangerment.
Caruso said outside court that Krentcil will be exonerated, because the evidence will show the child never entered the booth.
"Forget about the presumption of innocence; my client is 150 percent innocent,'' Caruso said. "She loves that child more than her whole life. She would never, ever, ever do anything to harm her child let alone place her child in a tanning booth with her. She is innocent."
The child is still living at home with her mother, Caruso told Municipal Court Judge Roslyn Holmes-Grant, though he said the state's child welfare agency is monitoring the family.
Krentcil said she loves tanning and has visited salons for many years but would not do anything to jeopardize her daughter's health.
"Never in my life would I endanger my child by putting her in a tanning booth. I'm not dumb,'' she said before her scheduled hearing.
Outside court, she called herself "a wonderful mother.''
Police in Nutley told The Nutley Sun newspaper they were called to the child's school April 24 because the kindergartner was in pain from a "pretty severe sunburn.''
The tanning incident is not the first time Krentcil has been in trouble with the law, according to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office. They say she had been arrested in Camden County back in 1999 for theft and forgery. After her arrest in Nutley she was arrested again in Camden County for allegedly violating probation in the case. Police sources tell NBC10 the violation stems from unpaid fines for her 1999 arrest.
Krentcil spent two days in Camden County Jail and was released on April 26. Caruso says his client is now caught up with the fines and the warrant is now null and void. He says he's now focused on defending the 44-year-old mother against the tanning allegations.
Krentcil is scheduled to make her next court appearance on June 4.