A New Jersey woman arrested after police said she brought her 5-year-old daughter into a tanning booth said Wednesday that she was innocent of the charges but admits to excessive tanning herself.
Patricia Krentcil, 44, pleaded not guilty to second-degree child endangerment and said outside court that she is a "wonderful mother."
Asked whether she admits to excessive tanning, Krentcil said "yes," but insisted she would never subject her red-haired, fair-skinned daughter to the heat of a tanning bed.
The girl, who authorities said suffered a sunburn from the tanning booth, was allowed to stay in the home but is now being monitored by state child welfare workers.
Krentcil insists her daughter was never exposed to the tanning booth's UV rays and instead got slightly sunburned while playing outside on a warm day.
The girl's father told NBC 4 New York that his daughter told classmates at school that she "went tanning with Mommy." He thinks a teacher overheard, inaccurately connected the girl's sunburn to the tanning salon trip and contacted police.
"This whole big thing happened, and everyone got involved," said Rich Krentcil. "It was 85 degrees outside, she got sunburned. That's it. That's all that happened."
Julio Cortez / AP
Patricia Krentcil, left, stands with her lawyer, John Caruso, during a court appearance on charges of child endangerment at the Essex County Superior Court, Wednesday, May 2.
Patricia Krentcil said she treats her tanning salon trips as an errand in which she brings along her daughter, but insists the booth lights were never exposed to the girl.
"It's like taking your daughter to go food shopping," she told NBC 4 New York at her Nutley, N.J. home on Tuesday after being released on $25,000 bail. "There's tons of moms that bring their children in."
"I tan, she doesn't tan," she continued. "I'm in the booth, she's in the room. That's all there is to it."
The incident happened over a week ago, but there did not appear to be any burns on the little girl Tuesday.
Patricia Krentcil said she's been visiting her local salon for more than 10 years, and doesn't know why her visits there with her daughter have suddenly been called into question.
In New Jersey, children under 14 are not allowed to tan at indoor salons, while those 14 to 17 years old may do so with signed parental consent.
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