More than four years after accusations first came to light, Southern California water polo coach Bahram Hojreh was convicted of numerous sexual abuse charges on Nov. 17 in Orange County Superior Court.
Hojreh, 46, was convicted of sexually assaulting nine teenage girls he trained and assaulting a 10th athlete over a five-year period, the Orange County district attorney announced in a press release.
Hojreh’s charges included sexual battery, sexual penetration, and lewd acts on a child involving nine water polo players between the ages of 13 and 17 years old from 2012 to 2017. He was also convicted of misdemeanor counts of simple assault on a 10th girl.
The District Attorney reports that many of the assaults occurred underwater during training sessions at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, Calif., where Hojreh coached the International Water Polo Club. He also previously coached high school water polo at Kennedy High School and University High School, both in Southern California.
The jury also found that Hojreh used his position of trust as a sought-after club and high school water polo coach to sexually abuse the girls, the DA said. He faces a maximum sentence of 22 years in state prison plus six months in Orange County Jail.
Following the verdict, Hojreh was immediately taken into custody and is being held without bail until his sentencing on Jan. 12, 2023.
“These young women will spend the rest of their lives trying to forget these abhorrent moments of their childhood because someone they thought they could trust turned out to be a pedophile,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “The wounds these young girls suffered at the hands of this monster may not be visible, but they are very, very real and they are scars that they will carry with them forever.
“My heart breaks for each one of these victims and for their parents who did everything they could to help their children achieve their athletic dreams and instead had to learn the painful truth that their daughters had been molested right in front of them – and there was nothing they could do to protect them. Thankfully, these brave girls had the courage to speak up about the abuse and prevented additional girls from being molested.”
Accusations of Hojreh’s abuse initially came to light in early 2018, when a group of girls confided in their parents about their experiences and the parents subsequently reported it to law enforcement.
In June 2021, USA Water Polo settled for $13.85 million in a case where 12 female water polo players alleged that the national governing body failed to protect them from Hojreh. He is now banned for life from participating in all USA Water Polo events.
Hojreh was added to the US Center for Safesport public database with a permanent ban on February 14, 2019.