A Utah County couple has filed a lawsuit accusing an Orem preschool of failing to protect their daughter and other children against sexually abusive classmates.

Filed last week in 4th District Court, the lawsuit says a female child identified only as "L.G.P." and at least three other girls were repeatedly abused by "sexually reactive" male classmates at the KinderCare Learning Center.The parents of L.G.P. said they enrolled their daughter in Kin-der-Care in 1994-95 and again in 1997, relying upon the national chain's advertised promise to provide a safe learning environment for children.

In April 1997, a 6-year-old sexually reactive male and another boy used a marker to color L.G.P.'s buttocks, the lawsuit said. Her parents said they attempted to determine how the abuse could occur with proper teacher supervision, "but no acceptable answers were forthcoming and no action was taken to protect any of the other children from this sexually reactive child."

One of the male students involved in the incident later moved away with his family and left the center, but the other child continued to abuse L.G.P., the suit said.

"There were repeated incidents where the sexually reactive child would enlist the aid of another student, and while under covers, blankets or at other times and places in the corners of the classrooms, would forcefully restrain L.G.P. and sexually assault her by touching her genitals in various ways," the lawsuit said.

According to the suit, the abuse continued on a weekly basis and involved at least three other female children. L.G.P.'s parents said their daughter disclosed the abuse in July 1998. A subsequent examination by a therapist confirmed the abuse had been "more extensive and more repeated than the child had disclosed," the suit said.

The parents said KinderCare's failure to have adequate policies to protect their daughter and others from the ongoing sexual abuse of a child who had previously acted out constitutes a breach of contract.

The lawsuit seeks damages to be determined at trial. It also asks the court to order KinderCare to develop a method of informing parents when a sexually reactive child has acted out in the facility and disclosing what steps are being taken to protect other children.

The Orem preschool referred questions about the lawsuit to its corporate headquarters in Oregon. A spokeswoman there said the company would have no comment on pending litigation.