LAUDERHILL, Fla. (AP) _ A couple who ran a day-care center recommended by the state to shelter children threatened with abuse were in jail today accused of sexually molesting their charges, police said.

Augustus Danville, 62, and his wife, Beryl Danville, 56, were ordered held without bond after their initial court hearing today. Danville was accused of three counts of sexual battery on children under 12, while Mrs. Danville faced once count of aiding in the alleged abuse.

Two 3-year-old girls and a 17-month-old girl under the couples' care showed signs of abuse, including penetration, said Broward Sheriff's Office detective Tom Hutchinson.

''Disgusting,'' said the detective, who arrested the couple Wednesday. ''I've been a cop for 19 years and it upset me. I had to take off for a few hours.''

The sheriff's office and the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services have launched a drive to contact families of children who stayed with the Danvilles to determine if others were abused, said sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal.

''We believe there may be more cases, based on the investigation,'' said Leljedal.

He said all three girls in the Danvilles' care had been abused, while two of the three boys at the center showed no signs of being molested. The third boy was still to be examined.

For two years prior to the arrest Mrs. Danville ran a state-approved home for ''protective day care,'' said Paul Freedlund, the department's district administrator in Broward.

The Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services sent children who appeared to be in danger in their own homes to the Danvilles to ease family tensions, said Freedlund.

The Danvilles' service ''was a model, one of the better homes,'' said Freedlund.

Mrs. Danville, a British citizen who also lived in Jamaica, was checked for any criminal background prior to being given a license, he said, and no convictions were found locally.

Her husand should also have been checked because he lived in the home, but it was not immediately clear if that was done, police said.