by Kristina Vakhman
Retired Central Connecticut theatre professor Thomas Callery was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and interfering with an officer on July 12, according to an arrest warrant by the New Britain Superior Court obtained by The Recorder.
The charges come after an incident in CCSU’s Black Box Theatre in March.
Callery had instructed students to lie to officers from CCSU’s Police Department about the events leading up to a student’s injuries, which included a laceration to her head that required five stitches, three fractures in her back and a bruised lung that caused her to say overnight in the hospital, the warrant states.
President Dr. Zulma Toro made the university community aware of the situation in an email following the incident.
The document describes how the student had fallen from a beam she had been walking on to remove and install lights under Callery’s direction. She fell over 15 feet from the beam onto the catwalk below, then the stage below the catwalk and then, finally, onto the floor. She had been on the beam without any safety harness or rails in place.
The warrant adds that while the student was lying injured and crying on the floor, Callery ordered her and surrounding students to tell police she’d fallen from a ladder. While police were investigating, one of the student witnesses spoke up and told an officer Callery had instructed them to give false accounts. The injured student, as did others who were interviewed by police, later confirmed this as well.
Callery did not initially admit to the details of the incident, but then corroborated the students’ testimonies upon being interviewed again by CCSU police. He said he had known that the student had fallen from the beam and that he had told the injured student and student witnesses to lie to officers and to the New Britain Emergency Medical Services first responders.
Callery also confessed that there was no safety equipment available to students when rigging the lights, the warrant states. He claimed he had requested and recommended equipment to CCSU, but had been ignored.
The warrant adds that Callery did not ask for more equipment after attending an Occupational Safety and Health Administration construction safety course in 2017.
Callery was placed on administrative leave shortly after the incident, according to Dr. Toro’s email. He officially retired June 1.
Callery is expected to appear in court Thursday.