Widespread media reports Wednesday that a 6-year-old girl was allowed to tan in a New Jersey tanning salon were based on the 6-year-old’s statements to a school official that her mother took her to a tanning salon, but no evidence that the girl was ever actually allowed to tan in the salon.
“None of this happened,” Anthony Ruccatano, owner of City Tropics Tanning in Nutley, New Jersey, told Smart Tan Wednesday.
The story got national attention this morning after Essex County prosecutors charged Patricia Krentcil, a City Tropics Tanning client, with second-degree child endangerment in a hearing today for allegedly allowing the 6-year-old to tan in the salon in mid-April. Krentcil, who had another municipal charge pending, appeared on camera reports in heavy black-face make-up denying that her daughter ever tanned with her. The heavy make-up further ignited media interest in the story.
Absent from most of the news reports is the fact that the salon has not been charged in the case. New Jersey has a law prohibiting tanning salon usage for those under 14.
City Tropics owner Ruccatano — who has been fielding calls from the national news all morning — said he spoke to detectives two weeks ago. He told them that Krentcil tans in a 12-minute stand-up unit in the salon, that the unit is housed in its own tanning room behind a locked door and that, according to his employee, the 6-year-old waited outside in the car with her father. The salon has seven tanning units.
Krentcil was charged April 24. The incident allegedly occurred a week earlier — in the midst of unseasonably warm weather in New Jersey.
Essex County Prosecutors office did not return calls to Smart Tan Wednesday morning, but Essex County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Katherine Carter told ABC News, “The little girl went to school and reported she had these burns and that caused the school to contact authorities.”
Krentcil appeared on camera in news reports in black-face make-up. CBS-New York interviewed her in her home, where she said her daughter’s sunburns happened outdoors on a family outing. “She’s 6 years old. She does go tanning with mommy. But not IN the booth.” Krentcil told CBS-New York. “The whole thing is preposterous.”
Although CBS reported that Anna told investigators, “I go tanning with Mommy” CBS reporter Derricke Dennis admitted, “Trying to question Anna, you can see how she might not tell the story just as it happened.”