A retired Central Connecticut State University theater professor is accused of telling students to lie to police after a student was injured while working under his direction in the theatre.
Thomas Callery turned himself into the CCSU Police Department on July 12 after being informed that a warrant for his arrest had been issued.
Callery is accused of directing students to work in unsafe conditions to adjust lighting and other elements in the theatre, and then telling students to lie to investigators when a student was injured in a fall.
According to court documents, on March 28, 2018, an officer was called to the Black Box Theatre on the CCSU campus for a report of an injured person. When police arrived the victim was lying on her back, bleeding from a cut on her head and “visibly upset,” according to court documents. The victim initially told EMS and police that she fell from a ladder, but another student told police that the victim fell from an overhead beam and that their professor, Callery, told them to lie about it.
The victim then admitted that she had walked onto a building support beam to help another student remove lights, and tripped over an obstacle and fell. The students told police that Callery told them to use the beams and that they did not have any safety equipment, according to court documents.
Investigators determined the victim fell off the support beam onto a catwalk about 8 feet below, then fell on the stage another 4 feet below, then finally onto the floor another 3 feet below – a total of around 15 feet. The victim suffered three fractures to her back and had to wear a back brace for six to eight weeks. She also needed five stitches and suffered a bruised lung.
The court documents state that when police asked Callery about the incident, he initially claimed he did not know where the student fell from or why she was walking on a beam, but later admitted he knew she had fallen from the beam and that he told students to lie to police because he was afraid the theatre would be shut down.
Callery had received OSHA safety training, according to the documents, yet still directed the victim and other students onto support beams high above the stage without any safety equipment.
Callery was charged with interfering with a police officer and reckless endangerment in the second degree.
He was placed on administrative leave soon after the incident while the investigation was conducted and he retired before the investigation was completed, according to school officials. He is next due in court on July 26.