By Karen Zautyk
Patricia Krentcil (a.k.a. The Tanning Mom) scored a victory with the American justice system last week when an Essex County grand jury refused to indict her on a charge of child endangerment.
In April 2012, Krentcil had been arrested after school authorities noticed what appeared to be burns on the leg of her 5-year-old daughter. Krentcil said it was a natural sunburn from playing outside.
But the 44-year-old Nutley mom, who apparently spent an inordinate amount of time in tanning salons, was accused of having taken the child tanning with her, in violation of state law prohibiting use of such salons by children under 14.
Krentcil’s alarming appearance, her face appearing to be just slightly lighter than Secretariat’s, made the story fodder for headlines around the globe and late-night TV monologues. Someone even produced a “Tanning Mom” action figure.
Throughout her yearlong ordeal, Krentcil remained adament that the little girl had never artificially tanned, and the grand jury, sitting in Newark, obviously agreed. She dodged a potential 10-year jail sentence.
Several hours after her vindication, Krentcil met with (a.k.a. confronted) the press outside her Nutley home.
Krentcil, more than a few shades lighter than when she was first thrust into the collective consciousness, summed up the ordeal thusly: “The whole thing was ridiculous.”
What the world did this past year, she said, “made a mockery of me.”
However, it seems the future is somewhat brighter. “There’s gonna be a movie out, which is gonna be exciting,” Krentcil stated.
She also indicated a move as well as a movie may be in the offing. “I’m gonna probably go to London and get a flat because I have a lot of modeling jobs,” she said.
When one newsperson mentioned her daughter, she exhibited a flash of temper, ordering the questioner off her property.
“My daughter does not tan!” she declared.
In its Feb. 24 edition, two days before the grand jury handed up its decision, The Sun tabloid in London published an interview with Krentcil, in which she is quoted as saying, “I have been accused of something I didn’t do and now my family and I cannot even go out in public as the taunts are just too much to bear.”
Putting her “freckle-faced angel on a tanning bed” would be “like putting a chicken in a frying pan,” she told The Sun.
As for a move across the pond, Krentcil explained, “To me, London is the perfect place. Nobody will know us and, unlike in New Jersey, I think people are more educated and less small-minded.”
Last week, when one of the local press asked her what she had learned from her experience, she answered, “People suck.”
You can read the entire British interview, along with some comments on tanning-related skin damage, at www.thesun.co.uk. If you’re interested.