A well-known Southern California water polo coach was convicted on Thursday of nearly two dozen felonies stemming from charges by about a dozen women who accused him of sexually assaulting them as teenagers .
An Orange County Superior Court jury found Bahram Hojreh, 46, guilty of 22 counts of sexually assaulting nine women between the ages of 14 and 17 after deliberating for just under three days, Press-Telegram reported.
The felony convictions included sexual assault, sexual penetration and lewd acts on a minor as well as a misdemeanor misdemeanor conviction of simple assault on a tenth woman.
Hojreh was acquitted of a charge of lewd acts related to the 10th victim.
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Two other women testified against Hojreh at trial, but their specific allegations were not part of the charge group.
A group of 15 alleged victims and their families were present in court during the ruling and Press-Telegram reported that one of the elderly relatives began moaning in the courtroom as Hojreh and was placed in jail.
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Hojreh has billed himself as a coach for almost a quarter of a century who has “contributed to the development of several Olympians”. Until January 2018, he served on the board of directors of the Southern California Local Chapter of USA Water Polo, the governing body of water polo in the United States.
Hojreh, who also ran the International Water Polo Club in Los Alamitos, Calif., and taught at Kennedy High School, faced allegations that he abused young girls while they were underwater by twisting their nipples, by touching their genitals and penetrating them with his fingers. under their bathing suits during individual training sessions.
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“Every one of them wanted to play in the Junior Olympics, play in college, maybe play in the Olympics one day,” Assistant District Attorney Raquel Cooper said. “And he was the one who told them he could get them there. He knew his players inherently trusted him. He knew those teenagers knew he was the key to getting them into college. . And he took advantage of it.”
The dozen teenagers who accused Hojreh settled a civil lawsuit with USA Water Polo in 2021 that awarded them a nearly $14 million settlement.
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“We have heard testimony from plaintiffs, and their allegations are heartbreaking,” USA Water Polo CEO Christopher Ramsey said in a statement at the time. “We hope this will allow them to start a new chapter in their lives.”
Associated Press contributed to this report