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N.J. mom charged with putting 5-year-old in tanning bed

May 02, 2012|By Rene Lynch
  • Patricia Krentcil of Nutley, N.J., has pleaded not guilty to putting her 5-year-old daughter in a tanning bed.
Patricia Krentcil of Nutley, N.J., has pleaded not guilty to putting her… (Essex County Sheriff's…)

You know what's not a good idea? Putting your 5-year-old in a tanning bed.

That's what Essex County, N.J., authorities believe Patricia Krentcil, 44, of Nutley, N.J., did recently. They charged her with second-degree child endangerment after authorities discovered serious burns on her 5-year-old daughter.

Krentcil pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning, and authorities are continuing to investigate the source of the child's injuries.

After her courtroom appearance in Newark, Krentcil and her attorney paused to speak to media. Her lawyer, John Caruso, portrayed the incident as a big misunderstanding. "We're confident when all the facts are heard in this case, she'll be vindicated."

Krentcil added: "I'm a wonderful mother."

Tanning salons are common across America, but the practice isn't without risks. Critics say prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause a variety of health problems, including skin cancer. As a result, many states ban minors from tanning beds.

Krentcil says her daughter, Anna, got the burns the old-fashioned way -- by being out in the sun and gardening over the weekend without proper protection. But Anna went to school and told authorities that she got the burns from a tanning salon. That led school officials to call child welfare authorities.

ABC news talked more extensively to Krentcil, who confirmed that she went to the tanning salon with her daughter but insisted the girl was just tagging along. "I never once in my life let my daughter, especially at that age, go into a tanning booth," Krentcil told ABC.

She also told ABC the case is being overblown by the media. She said the injuries are not all that severe, noting that her daughter's pediatrician diagnosed it as "a little sunburn" and prescribed a routine over-the-counter medication.

A spokeswoman for the Essex County prosecutor's office told the Los Angeles Times that the case is ongoing, and declined to discuss what evidence authorities might have that the girl was actually in a tanning bed. "We're not releasing any other information at this time. It's under investigation," spokeswoman Katherine Carter said.

This case is shaping up to be catnip for the media. Carter said the phones have been ringing off the hook with reporters calling for the scoop. No doubt that has to do in part with some of the state's most well-known tanners: the eerily orange "Jersey Shore" crew. (Snooki famously slammed President Obama because of a 10% tax hike on tanning beds.)

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