A lawsuit settlement worth $13.85 million has been reached in Orange County Superior Court between 12 female water polo players and USA Water Polo and International Water Polo Club. The case stemmed from the athletes alleging that the sport failed to protect them from abuse by club coach Bahram Hojreh from 2012 to 2017.
The total, likely to be paid by insurance, is higher than USA Water Polo‘s 2020 annual revenue of just under $10 million and almost double the organization’s reported assets of about $7.3 million.
According to the report appearing in ESPN, USA Water Polo was found negligent for failing to act upon reports in the summer of 2017 that Hojreh’s players at the International club had sexually abused opponents during matches and allowed him to get away with abuse for about eight more months.
Hojreh, 45, pled not guilty to 34 counts of sexual abuse involving 10 victims, nine of whom were children at the time of the acts. The alleged crimes occurred during one-on-one coaching sessions. (ESPN)
“He’d get in the pool and tell the girls, ‘This is what’s going to happen in college. You need to get used to this,'” Attorney Morgan Stewart, who represents 11 of the plaintiffs, Stewart said. “Then he’d reach under their swimsuits and assault them.” (ESPN)
Hojreh has been permanently banned from water polo by SafeSport.
Of the case, CEO of USA Water Polo, Christopher Ramsey, said, “We have heard the plaintiffs’ testimony, and their allegations are heartbreaking,” Christopher Ramsey, CEO of USA Water Polo, said in a statement. “We hope that this allows them to begin a new chapter in their lives.”
Lawsuits related to Hojreh are still pending against school districts in Anaheim and Irvine where he coached.