Police officers have “concerning evidence” that a two-year-old girl was sexually assaulted whilst attending Lollipop’s Playland Penrith on Sunday.
Emergency services were called to the play centre on Mulgoa Road, Penrith about 12.20pm, after the child was located by a member of the public in a storeroom.
It is alleged the child was found in an extremely distressed state with injuries.
The mother of the child had been looking for her for 20 minutes before she was located.
The child was taken to Westmead Children’s Hospital where she was treated for a number of injuries.
Officers from Nepean Police Area Command attended and established a crime scene.
Commander of the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad, Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec said the investigation is ongoing.
“The injuries are sufficient for us to be very concerned,” he said.
Local mum Naomi Gent attended the centre around 1pm on the day of the incident.
Ms Gent, who takes her two-year-old son to the centre weekly, said she was shocked by what had happened.
“It [the centre] was closed early and police attended but everything was so discrete, we wouldn’t have known anything had actually happened,” she said.
“The centre is so fabulous with all the different interactive apparatus that keeps them busy and active for hours at a time.
“The staff are all so lovely and make you feel welcome and comfortable, and I can relax knowing my child is safe and actively engaged.
“It’s so horrible and something I never thought of happening there, but as a mum I probably should start thinking of these things being possible.”
Detectives from the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad are investigating the incident.
CCTV footage is being reviewed as well as the COVID-19 safe sign in register.
Detective Superintendent Kerlatec said the centre management were being very cooperative.
In a statement on Facebook, Lollipop’s Playland Penrith owners said the safety of their customers and staff is “paramount”.
“As parents of young children ourselves we are devastated for the family involved and are fully cooperating with the police investigation,” they said.
Detectives are appealing for anyone with information to contact police, in particular those who were at the play centre on Sunday and may have witnessed suspicious behaviour.
Anyone with concerns about suspected child abuse or exploitation should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
The centre remains closed temporarily.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.