Newington police have arrested a camp counselor who is accused of putting his hands around an 8-year-old camper’s throat.
Police responded to the Newington Parks and Recreation Department on Monday and learned that another staff member had seen Vicente Ithier-Vicenty, 22, of Newington, put his hands around the neck of a camper under his care, police said.
Authorities said it happened in a bathroom at the Town Hall. Another counselor heard the child crying and reported the incident to his supervisors.
The town department suspended Ithier-Vicenty and called police, according to a news release from police. Ithier-Vicenty's suspension will continue until the investigation is complete.
He was charged with risk of injury to a minor and third-degree strangulation.
Officials from the Parks and Recreation Department said Ithier-Vicenty was working for a playground program and about 305 children are attending this week.
Each counselor is responsible for 10-12 campers and goes through weeks of training, according to department officials.
Counselor-in-training Evan Metzger knows Ithier-Vicenty well and considers him a mentor.
"Sometimes he would have a short temper with the kids," Metzger explained. "I saw him once grab a kid's arm."
Bruce Till, superintendent of the Parks and Recreation Department, sent a letter to parents of campers Tuesday informing them of the situation.
"We deeply regret that this incident occurred," the letter reads. "We strive to provide the safest possible environment for all children who participate in Parks and Recreation programs. We want to assure all parents that this was an isolated incident, and we are confident that the children in our programs will be cared for in a safe and appropriate manner."
Ithier-Vicenty was released on a $5,000 non-surety bond and is scheduled to appear in New Britain Superior Court on Aug. 11.
Court records show that Ithier-Vicenty was arrested in a separate incident in Newington on April 3 and charged with disorderly conduct. He is due in court for that case on July 31.
Ithier-Vicenty has been with the camp since 2009, which conducts background checks on all employees, according to town officials. The camp requires its staff members to undergo weeks of training on policy and procedures.
According to the Parks and Recreation Department, the camp had never had issues with Ithier-Vicenty before, but camp officials said they were aware of his arrest in April. The camp discussed it with police and said they didn't consider it cause for concern.
"We are investigating the incident internally, [and] at the same time letting the criminal justice system run its course," Newington Town Manager John Salomone said in a statement Tuesday. "We are grateful we have a well-trained staff that acted appropriately when needed."
Ithier-Vicenty declined to comment.