Two Orange County school districts have agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse of six female water polo players by their former coach, the victims’ attorneys announced Wednesday.
The former water polo coach, Barham Hojreh, was convicted in Nov. 2022 on 23 of 24 felony counts all related to the sexual assault of minors.
Hojreh, who was known for coaching Olympic prospects at the International Water Polo Club in Los Alamitos, according to reporting by the L.A. Times, was sentenced in Jan. 2023 to 18 years and four months in prison.
In total, the settlement comes to $4.8 million, with the Anaheim Union High School District settling for $2.5 million and the Irvine Unified School District settling for $2.3 million.
“It is a truly horrific example of the failure of adults to protect children from the predators that lurk in the youth sports,” the victims’ attorney Morgan Stewart told The Times in 2018 when the lawsuit against AUHSD was announced.
Stewart’s law firm had previously sued USA Water Polo and International Water Polo, where Hojreh also coached, on behalf of a dozen other young women. That lawsuit was settled in 2021 for $13.8 million.
“Barham Hojreh is a monster who was allowed free reign over vulnerable young girls for many years,” Stewart said in a news release announcing the latest settlements. “Complaints by parents and female players themselves were ignored. Hojreh’s bizarre and threatening behavior towards these girls was ignored. The neglect by these school districts resulted in young women, minors at the time, being victimized by a predator.”
KTLA has reached out to officials in both school districts and is awaiting comment.