SANTA ANA (CBSLA/AP) — A well-known Orange County water polo coach is facing allegations he molested seven underage girls during coaching sessions going back nearly four years.
The Orange County district attorney’s office said 42-year-old Bahram Hojreh of Irvine was charged Monday with four felony counts each of lewd acts upon a child and sexual penetration of a minor with foreign object. He also faces one count of lewd act upon a child under the age of 14. He also faces seven misdemeanor counts of child annoyance and six of sexual battery.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Hojreh was not in custody, according to jail records.
The DA’s office alleges that between September 2014 and January of 2018, Hojreh sexually assaulted seven female water polo players while coaching for his International Water Polo Club in Los Alamitos.
The club was associated with USA Water Polo.
The International Water Polo Club was removed from using a pool at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos after police informed base officials they were investigating allegations involving “sexual misconduct” against Hojreh, said Col. Richard Lalor, a spokesman for the base.
The sexual assaults occurred during one-on-one coaching sessions, the DA’s office said. It is unclear if all the assaults took place in the Los Alamitos area.
Two of the alleged victims reported the assaults to their parents, who in turn informed Child Protective Services, the DA’s office reports.
After Los Alamitos police opened an investigation, Los Angeles police identified five more victims. Four of the victims were 15 years old or younger, the DA said. Investigators believe there could be even more victims.
Hojreh touts himself as a coach for nearly a quarter-century who has “helped develop multiple Olympians.” He currently serves on the board of directors for the local Southern California chapter of USA Water Polo, the governing body for water polo in the United States. USA Water Polo didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment
Hojreh was a water polo coach at University High School in Irvine, but his employment ended in March 2017, said Annie Brown, a spokeswoman for the Irvine Unified School District.
Hojreh’s attorney is citing that long career to cast doubt on the allegations. “So the question we have to answer is, did a coach, after 20 years in the sport with an impeccable reputation, without any hint of this happening previously, become a serial groper 20 years into coaching?” attorney Ricardo Nichol said in a statement Wednesday.
Citing confidentiality laws, Brown declined to provide additional information about the circumstances surrounding Hojreh’s employment, but said there were no reports to school officials of sexual misconduct involving the coach.
Hojreh had also coached at Kennedy High School in Anaheim, but district officials declined to provide any information about his employment. Hojreh’s name was removed from the school’s website after the AP inquired about his employment status.
The International Water Polo Club was registered as a nonprofit organization, but did not register with the California attorney general’s office. After inquiries from The Associated Press, the attorney general’s office sent a letter to Hojreh warning him that his organization was “both unregistered and, consequentially, delinquent for past filings.”
USA Water Polo has suspended Hojreh and revoked his seat on a regional board.
His next court hearing is scheduled for June 14. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 13 years and four months in state prison, along with another 10 years in county jail. He is currently free on bail.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)