A coach in Orange County, California, who ran a club affiliated with USA Water Polo, has been arrested and charged after authorities reported he allegedly sexually abused underage female players.
Bahram Hojreh, 42, reportedly abused the athletes during one-on-one coaching sessions between September 2014 and January 2018.
According to court documents, the abuse took place at the International Water Polo Club in Los Alamitos, California. Hojreh reportedly sexually abused seven athletes, four of whom were 15 years old or younger at the time of the alleged abuse.
Hojreh is accused of touching the athletes’ breasts and genitals, coercing the minors to touch his genitals and digitally penetrating them. He now faces more than 20 felony and misdemeanor charges, including lewd acts upon a child and sexual battery.
He pleaded not guilty to the filed charges and his attorney, Ricardo Nicol, said his client “adamantly denies” the allegations.
The alleged abuse was reported to the authorities when two of the girls told their parents about their ordeal. The parents then reached out to Child Protective Services and reported the incidents.
The agency contacted the Los Alamitos Police Department, which then opened an investigation into the alleged abuse. During the investigation, police identified five additional victims of the coach’s alleged abuse.
During the police investigation, the International Water Polo Club was barred from using the pool and Hojreh was also kept from entering the premises.
According to Christopher Ramsey, the CEO of USA Water Polo, immediately suspended Hojreh’s USA Water Polo membership and his coaching position as soon as he learned about the allegations.
“The center was established to respond to allegations such as those made in reference to Mr. Hojreh, and we fully support the center in its efforts and fully cooperate with the center in enforcing any sanctions that the center may impose. USA Water Polo has zero tolerance for sexual misconduct,” he said.
However, Hojreh's attorney defended his client and cited his “impeccable reputation.”
“A guy that has been involved in the sport for 30 years, who has an impeccable reputation, who has been entrusted with hundreds, if not thousands, of kids, he suddenly becomes a serial groper in the pool? Hopefully the truth wins out. But to me, there is something here that is not adding up,” said Nicol.
Hojreh was released on a $250,000 bond and is set to appear in court for a pretrial hearing on June 14. If convicted, he could face up to 13 years and four months in state prison and 10 years in county jail.
Breaking: Former Kennedy girls water polo coach Bahram Hojreh, well known from the International club, charged with sexual abuse of seven girls in a Southern California water polo club, AP reporting, He also coached at University HS in Irvine in past @ocvarsity— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) April 4, 2018
Statement from USA Water Polo on Bahram Hojreh, arraigned today for alleged sexual assault of 7 underage girls. pic.twitter.com/dVUBP7dkXM— Greg Lee (@abc7greg) April 4, 2018