ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. – A prominent water polo coach in Orange County, California was convicted on Wednesday of sexually assaulting 10 teenage girls over the course of five years.
Irvine resident Bahram Hojreh, 46, was found guilty by a jury of 22 felony counts including sexual battery, sexual penetration, and lewd acts on a child, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
In total there were 10 athletes that were sexually assaulted by Hoireh. The victims were between the ages of 13- and 17-years-old. The crimes occurred from 2012 to 2017, officials said, according to KTLA.
Authorities said many of Hojreh’s sexual assaults occurred underwater during pool training sessions at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos. Since the crimes occurred underwater, parents observing the physically demanding sport from the poolside remained unaware.
The victims said the illicit touching went far beyond the normal contact of the sport. They said Hojreh “touched their breasts, twisted their nipples, touched their genitals above and below their swimsuits and digitally penetrated them underwater during coaching sessions — actions he explained were to “toughen them up for competition.”
Hojreh was a coach at the International Water Polo Club in Los Alamitos in addition to Kennedy High School in the nearby city of La Palma, according to KTLA.
Hojreh’s reputation as an accomplished coach gave athletes hope he would be the “key” to fulfilling their athletic dreams. However, their dreams became a nightmare of abuse.
A dozen female players who were victimized by Hojreh were awarded nearly $14 million after settling a lawsuit against USA Water Polo and a California club in June 2021.
As a result of the criminal conviction, Hojreh faces a maximum sentence of 22 years in state prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 12, 2023. He is currently being held in custody without bail pending his sentencing.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer issued a statement following the conviction.
“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,” Spitzer said. “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.”