A southern California water polo coach was convicted Thursday of nearly two dozen felonies stemming from accusations that he sexually assaulted about a dozen women as teenagers.
After deliberating for less than three days, a jury found 46-year-old Bahram Hojreh guilty of 22 felony counts of sexually assaulting nine female victims between the ages of 14 and 17 years old.
Among the felony convictions were sexual battery, sexual penetration, lewd acts on a minor, as well as a misdemeanor conviction of simple assault against a tenth woman.
He was acquitted of a lewd acts charge in connection with the 10th victim.
Other women testified against Hojreh, but their specific allegations were not included in the group of charges.
A group of 15 alleged victims and their families were in the courtroom during the ruling. According to the Press-Telegram, an elderly relative began to wail when Hojreh was taken into custody.
Until January 2018, Hojreh served on the board of directors for the local Southern California chapter of USA Water Polo, the governing body for the sport in the United States for nearly a quarter century.
In addition to running a water polo club in Los Alamitos, California, Hojreh taught at Kennedy High School and was accused of abusing the girls underwater by twisting their nipples, touching their genitals, and piercing them with his fingers below their swimsuits during one-on-one training sessions.
Deputy District Attorney Raquel Cooper said “All of them wanted to play in the Junior Olympics, college, or one day maybe in the Olympics. And he was the one who told them he could get them there. He knew his players inherently trusted him. He knew these teenage kids knew he was the key to getting them into college. He took advantage of that.”
USA Water Polo settled a civil lawsuit with the dozen teenagers who accused Hojreh in 2021, awarding them a roughly $14 million settlement.
According to Christopher Ramsey, CEO of USA Water Polo, “we have heard the plaintiffs’ testimony, and their allegations are heartbreaking. We hope they can begin a new chapter.”