— "Tan mom" Patricia Krentcil is out to prove she's a good parent.
The 44-year-old New Jersey mother of five spoke exclusively with TODAY about the allegations that she took her then-5-year-old daughter to a tanning booth in April.
In addition to maintaining her innocence, she emphasized her family's very typical home life.
“I'm up at 3 in the morning, making sure all the wash is done. My husband goes to work at 4:30,” Krentcil told TODAY in a report from Mara Schiavocampo. After Krentcil’s husband goes to work she said she makes pancakes, packs her kids' school bags, “and then they’re all off and gone. And then I work all day inside and outside the house.”
Krentcil has been charged with second-degree child endangerment, which carries a prison sentence of up to ten years. The charges came after her daughter Anna went to school with a sunburn and said she’d gone tanning in a booth with her mother, which prompted a school nurse to contact police. New Jersey bars anyone under 14 from using a tanning salon.
Anna “never went in,” Krentcil said. “She was not near a bed. Anna goes out with me…we go shopping and nails and this and that. She did not do anything wrong.”
After the allegations against Krentcil were reported, the Essex County New Jersey Prosecutor's Office issued a complaint warrant stating that Krentcil took her daughter “in a stand-up tanning booth causing first-degree burns on her body.” She was released on $25,000 bail.
Krentcil said that while Anna was burned, it was from the sun and not from exposure to a tanning bed. “It was beautiful out. And they were in the pool. Not the big pool, the kiddie pool," she said. "She's a redhead. She got sunburned.”
John D. Caruso, Krentcil’s attorney, said, “That child was never in that tanning booth. She loves her child more than her own life and would never, ever allow her child to go inside a tanning bed.” The salon she frequented, City Tropics in Nutley, N.J., has sided with Krentcil's story.
Other tanning salons around New Jersey, including some Krentcil has never visited, have banned her. Krentcil, who has not gone tanning since her arrest, said she is "disgusted" with the whole situation.
“Every allegation was completely wrong and I just want people to leave us alone,” she told TODAY.
In addition to intense media attention, Krentcil has become a punchline on “Saturday Night Live” and earned a spot in a monologue from Jimmy Kimmel, who said, “Is she tanning or did she fall down a chimney? She looks like Wiley Coyote after the dynamite stick blows up.” A toy manufacturer has even turned her into an action figure.
While Krentcil said that she can handle the jokes about her bronzed appearance, her kids are having a harder time: “They’re mad they’re picking on mommy again.”
She suggests people who judge her should “look in the mirror and look at yourself, instead of looking at me.
"And I’m sorry I'm tan. I can be tan; it just feels good. But I really think that these moms and dads or whoever, need to step off and step away.”
Krentcil is due back in court June 4.