Former Water Polo Players File Suit Against Ex-Coaches, School, USA Water Polo

Aug 11, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; General view of the ball during the women's preliminary round game between the United States and the China in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Andrew P. Scott
Photo Courtesy: Andrew P. Scott-USA TODAY Sports

Four former water polo players in California have filed two separate lawsuits against Anaheim Union High School District and USA Water Polo alleging sexual battery, negligence, emotional distress and false imprisonment related to incidents with their coaches, The Orange County Register reported.

The suits were filed in Orange County Superior County Court. They accuse former coaches Joshua Christopher Owens and Bahram Hojreh of sexual battery among other allegations, and the coaches, district, USA Water Polo and club with negligent supervision.

Two former players, referred to as Jane Does in court documents to protect their privacy, filed lawsuits against Owens and the district, while three players, also referred to as Jane Does, filed against Hojreh, the district, USA Water Polo and Hojreh’s former club, International Water Polo Club, according to the Register.

“It’s the grooming process that leads to these girls’ loss of innocence,” attorney Morgan Stewart, who is representing the players and their families, told the Register. “Our clients in these cases were physically, emotionally and sexually abused by prominent coaches whom they trusted to nurture their athletic goals. The Anaheim (Union High) School District, International Water Polo Club and USA Water Polo had reason to know that these coaches engaged in unlawful sexually-related conduct in the past, and/or was continuing to engage in such conduct. Yet they give these predators access to our clients and did nothing to prevent their abuse.”

Last week, Owens, 24, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting three teenage girls and was sentenced to six months in jail, according to multiple sources.

Hojreh, a prominent coach who annually helped host a major youth water polo tournament, is facing criminal charges after authorities allege he sexually abused seven girls on a Los Alamitos-based water polo club, according to the Register.

Read the full story by the Register here.