Parents sue Disney cruises claiming daughter, 3, was molested by a child in nursery play area

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Disney disputed that daycare centre employees failed to adequately supervise children when incident occurred last year

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The parents of a three-year-old who they allege was sexually assaulted during a Disney cruise are suing the company for $20m (£134.5m).

During a Disney cruise in January 2020, the parents allege that staff in a daycare centre failed to look after the couple’s daughter, who was “excessively groped and sexually touched” by another child, aged 12.

The 12-year-old, who was seen in CCTV footage wearing a princess Leila costume from the Star Wars franchise, was seen holding down the younger child’s arm, it was alleged.

Despite staff in the daycare centre, the parents of the three-year-old allege that nobody tried to stop the sexual assault from taking place.

“The victim was essentially trapped for roughly 20 minutes while she was sexually assaulted, while she was under the direct ‘supervision’ of Disney employees whose singular job is to oversee these children,” a lawyer for the parents, Michael Winkleman, said last month.

Mr Winkleman told the Miami Herald that after the alleged assault, the three-year-old “began wetting her bed and showing other signs of abuse”. That was when when law enforcement tracked down the CCTV footage.

“The victim’s parents filed this case in order to seek justice and accountability and to raise awareness about the hidden dangers of sexual assaults on cruise ships,” Mr Winkleman said.

Disney, in a statement to The Independent, said the “lawsuit is wholly without merit” and that it would “vigorously defend this case in court”.

“The plaintiffs’ first allegations were reported to the FBI, and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office investigated them and determined them to be unfounded,” the company said.

“The plaintiffs have now come back with a different story, which is equally unfounded, that another young female child acted inappropriately with their child.”

Neither the identities of the family, who are from Vermont, or the older child are known.

The lawsuit was filed in the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division.

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