A prominent high school water polo coach in California was convicted of sexually assaulting nine teen girls during training sessions, all while their unsuspecting parents sat poolside.
On Wednesday, jury found Bahram Hojreh, of Irvine, guilty of 22 felony counts after a five-week trial, including charges of sexual battery, sexual penetration and lewd acts on a child. The jury also found him guilty of simple assault in connection to one of the unnamed victims, the Orange County Register reports.
Prominent Water Polo Coach Found Guilty Of 22 Felony Counts Following Five-Week Trial
Prosecutors said the 46-year-old “touched their breasts, twisted their nipples, touched their genitals above and below their swimsuits and digitally penetrated them underwater during coaching sessions.”
The disgraced coach reportedly told the young women that all of this was necessary to “toughen them up for competition,” according to prosecutors.
The victims ranged in ages from 13 to 17 at the time of the incidents, which occurred between 2012 and 2017.
Hojreh denied the allegations while testifying in his own defense, claiming his former athletes were part of a “conspiracy” against him.
John Barnett, Hojreh’s defense attorney, even went so far as to accuse the young women of lying, the Orange County Register reports.
Poolside Parents Were Totally Unaware As The Sexual Abuse Took Place Just Feet Away
The coach led the International Water Polo Club in Los Alamitos, California, and also coached at Kennedy High School in La Palma.
The sexual assaults reportedly took place during training sessions at a pool located on the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos.
The victims’ parents, who had attended the training sessions, were entirely unaware as Hojreh molested their daughters mere feet away.
“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,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said.
Spitzer went on to say “thankfully, these brave girls had the courage to speak up about the abuse and prevented additional girls from being molested.”
Decorated Water Polo Coach Immediately Taken Into Custody After Wednesday’s Guilty Verdict
The outlet reports that the girls began confiding in each other about the abuse in 2017, however parents were not notified until a year later.
Upon learning of the abuse, the families promptly reported the assaults to police.
Hojreh, who trained over 100 All Americans and led upwards of ten teams to the national championships, is now banned for life from participating in events affiliated with USA Water Polo, according to the Orange County Register.
He had remained out on bail during the trial, but was immediately taken into custody after Wednesday’s guilty verdict.
Hojreh is scheduled to be sentenced on January 12.