A man is being hunted by police after he sexually assaulted a two-year-old girl in the storeroom of a play centre.
The toddler was found injured by emergency services at Lollipop’s Playland on Mulgoa Road in Penrith in Sydney’s west at about 12.20pm on Sunday.
The girl’s worried mother desperately searched for her daughter after she went missing but was unable to find her for 20 minutes.
Eventually, another child heard her ‘crying and distressed state’ before discovering the injured girl in the storeroom and informing the mother.
The two-year-old was treated for a number of injuries at Westmead Children’s Hospital and is now being cared for at home by her family.
NSW Police set up a crime scene yesterday and detectives from the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad are now investigating.
‘Initial inquiries suggest the girl was sexually assaulted by an unknown man,’ a NSW Police spokesman said.
‘Detectives are appealing for anyone with information to contact police, in particular those who were at the play centre yesterday and may have witnessed suspicious behaviour.’
Given the toddler was found alone without the perpetrator, descriptive details of the man are not yet known.
Lollipop’s Playland and Café is a national play centre chain with 28 locations across the country in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, WA, SA, and the ACT.
Lollipop’s Penrith is currently closed but will reopen on Tuesday due to the ongoing investigation and crime scene.
‘Our team is cooperating fully with the police investigation into this matter. Our thoughts and concerns are with everyone involved in this incident, especially the family,’ Lollipop’s Playland said in a statement.
‘Penrith Lollipops is a franchise of Lollipops Playland. The safety of our customers and staff is always our highest priority. We thank everyone for their support and understanding as we look further into this matter.’
Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec, commander of the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad, said they are ‘going through every skerrick of CCTV available’.
‘The child was very distressed when she was found and we are taking it at its worst for now,’ Mr Kelatec said.
Mr Keraltec said there were ‘a number of functions for children’s birthday parties’ at the time of the assault but does not know the exact number of people in Lollipop’s.
The detective said the child’s ‘injuries are sufficient enough to be very concerned’.
‘We must keep an open mind, a child between two and three can only provide so much information,’ he said.
‘There is no suggestion at all (that staff) were involved. They’ve been fully cooperative, they are as concerned as we are.’
Mr Keraltec said they were even open to the possibility that another child may have assaulted the two year old as they are ‘keeping an open mind’.
Lollipop’s Playground had a register of customers due to COVID-19 contact-tracing requirements.
‘Yes they do, there’s a register due to COVID restrictions of everyone entering the centre. And that’s been provided to us, we’re currently searching through that, looking through that,’ Mr Keraltec said.
‘It’s certainly a line of inquiry we’ll investigate.’
Anyone with information about the assault should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the online reporting page at crimestoppers.com.au.