OREM — Police say an 11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted walking to school Wednesday, and they're asking the public for information about the assailant.

The girl was alone walking to Cherry Hill Elementary about 7:50 a.m. when she was approached by a man near 1650 S. 400 East, Orem Police Lt. Craig Martinez said. The man forced the girl to a secluded area of a nearby church parking lot, sexually assaulted her and then left, Martinez said.

The girl ran to the school, where she immediately told a teacher what had happened. School officials called police.

"She's very distraught," Martinez said. "We need to get this guy off the street."

The man was described as being in his late teens or early 20s, wearing a grey hoodie, dark baseball hat and tennis shoes. The girl was wearing a pink coat and light blue jeans.

Anyone who noticed anything in the area is asked to call the Orem Police Department at 801-229-7070.

Erin Vasquez, with the Family Support and Treatment Center in Orem, said talking to children who have heard about an incident like this can be difficult for parents.

Vasquez encourages parents to educate kids rather than dwelling on the details, while reminding them they should always talk to an adult if something happens.

"It's empowering the child to be able to recognize that if something does come up, they have the skill sets to be able to deal with it," she said.

— McKenzie Romero