NEW BRITAIN - A retired Central Connecticut State University professor arrested after he allegedly told students to lie about a theater accident that injured a young woman is seeking to have the case dismissed through a court diversion program.
A hearing will be held on Sept. 19 to determine whether Thomas Callery can enter an accelerated rehabilitation program.
During the hearing, the female student will be allowed to speak, Callery’s attorney, William Gerace, said Thursday during his client’s first appearance in New Britain Superior Court.
If Callery is granted entry to the program, the charges against him will be dismissed after a year if he successfully finishes the requirements.
Callery was charged July 12 with second-degree reckless endangerment and interfering with police, which could get him an 18-month prison sentence, court officials said.
He retired from the school as university police were investigating an accident on March 28 in the school’s Black Box Theatre, where students hone their craft.
According to a warrant for his arrest, the accident that left a female theater student with three fractures to her back, a bruised lung and a gash on her head that required five stitches. She was under Callery’s direction when she walked onto a beam high above the stage to remove lights, the warrant said. She was walking on the beam without any safety harness or support rails when she tripped on obstacles on the beam and fell onto a catwalk, to the stage and to the floor.
Callery allegedly told the crying student that she was to tell first responders that she had fallen from a ladder, the warrant said.
Callery also told three other students to tell police the same version of how the accident occurred, the warrant said.
The injured student initially stuck with the story, but another student spoke up and told responding officers what had actually happened and said Callery had instructed them to lie, the document said.
Callery was initially vague in his answers to police, but during a second interview, he admitted that he had allowed the students to walk on the beam without safety equipment.
He told investigators that there was no safety equipment available to students and that the school had repeatedly denied his requests to buy some.
School officials say the Theater Department does have safety equipment and Callery hadn’t requested money to purchase equipment after attending a required safety training in December.
Callery was placed on administrative leave shortly after the accident occurred.
Callery retired June 1, the day after the warrant was completed.
He had been the Theater Department chairman from 2010 to 2014 and was teaching classes at the time the accident occurred. He had taught at the school since 1983 and had held tenure since 1989, Palmer said.
His salary level as an associate professor just before he retired was $98,664.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.