(KTLA) — A prominent Orange County water polo coach was sentenced to prison on Friday for sexually assaulting nine teenage girls over the course of several years.
Bahram Hojreh, 46, from Irvine, was sentenced to 18 years and four months for sexually assaulting nine teenage girls he trained and assaulting a tenth athlete over a five-year period.
Hojreh was found guilty by a jury in November of 22 felony counts including sexual battery, sexual penetration, and lewd acts on a child, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Authorities say Hojreh sexually assaulted nine water polo players between 13 and 17 years old from 2012 to 2017.
He was a coach at the International Water Polo Club in Los Alamitos and at Kennedy High School in La Palma.
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.
The 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.”
Authorities say he “used his position of trust as a sought-after club and high school water polo coach to sexually abuse the young girls.”
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.
KRON On is streaming news live now
“This coach held the keys to the athletic dreams of these young girls and he manipulated them into believing these sexual assaults were part of their training,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “It is heartbreaking that another trusted mentor abused the trust of his athletes and their parents to prey on children for his own sexual gratification – and to do it under the guise of legitimate athletic activity. Today’s sentence will not erase the lifelong trauma these young girls will be forced to endure, but I hope it will serve as a powerful example for children that they matter and no adult – no matter who they are or the position they hold – have the right to sexually abuse them. We are thankful the jury saw through the defense’s pathetic argument that this was nothing more than a money grab and saw that these vulnerable children who were preyed upon by a pedophile.”