A prominent Orange County water polo coach was convicted on Wednesday of sexually assaulting 10 teenage girls over the course of several years.
Bahram Hojreh, 46, from Irvine, 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.
Hojreh was convicted of sexually assaulting nine water polo players between 13 and 17 years old from 2012 to 2017. He was also convicted of sexually assaulting a tenth athlete over a five year period, officials said.
Many of Hojreh’s assaults occurred underwater during pool training sessions at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos. Since the assaults occurred underwater, parents watching from the poolside remained unaware, authorities said.
Hojreh was a coach at the International Water Polo Club in Los Alamitos and at Kennedy High School in La Palma.
The teenage victims 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.”
While testifying, victims said Hojreh’s reputation as an accomplished coach gave them hope that he would be the “key” to fulfilling their athletic dreams.
In June 2021, a dozen female players who were victims of Hojreh were awarded nearly $14 million after settling a lawsuit against USA Water Polo and a California club.
Hojreh faces a maximum sentence of 22 years in state prison plus six months in the Orange County Jail.
He is currently being held without bail until his sentencing hearing 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.”