Statement from Manly, Stewart & Finaldi Regarding $13.85 Million Settlement against USAWP

Bahram Hojreh coaches kids at his water polo club in 2013. (Photo by ROSE PALMISANO, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER/SCNG)
Bahram Hojreh. Photo Courtesy: Rose Palmisano

Editor’s Note: Following is statement released Monday by the law firm Manly, Stewart & Finaldi who represented 13 former female water polo in a civil action against Bahram Hojreh, the Anaheim Unified School District, the Irvine Unified School District, the International Water Polo Club, USA Water Polo and USAWP CEO Christopher Ramsey and USAWP Senior Director of Membership & SafeSport Compliance Christy Sicard.

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USA Water Polo Settles Lawsuits Alleging Child Sexual Abuse By Coach Barham Hojreh For $13.85 Million. Victims And Attorneys Call For Congressional Investigation.

Irvine, California – Attorneys representing a dozen female water polo players announced a settlement of $13.85 million dollars in lawsuits against USA Water Polo, and International Water Polo alleging sexual abuse by former water polo coach Barham Hojreh.

Lawsuits against the Anaheim Unified School District and the Irvine Unified School District where Hojreh also coached have not been settled. According to the victims’ attorney, these districts have made no meaningful effort to settle.

[Settlement of $13.85M Reached in Civil Suit Involving Water Polo Coach Bahram Hojreh]

“The size of this watershed settlement reflects the severe harm done to our clients by former coach Barham Hojreh and the extreme measures taken by USA Water Polo to evade responsibility for his reprehensible conduct,” said the victims’ attorney Morgan Stewart. “Children who compete under the auspices of USA Water Polo are not safe from the threat of sexual abuse and will not be until the Board and leadership of USA Water Polo are held accountable. My clients and I will call for a Congressional investigation and enforcement of appropriate sanctions under the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act of 2020 which could include decertifying USA Water Polo as an Olympic Governing Body.”

In a press release announcing the settlement, USA Water Polo said,” …plaintiff’s testimonies indicate they never informed USAWP of Mr. Hojreh’s alleged sexual misconduct against them or anyone else.” And,“USA Water Polo first learned of the allegations against IWPC and Mr. Hojreh on January 18, 2018 from the U.S. Center for SafeSport (the “Center”), the independent watchdog established by Congress and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to assume exclusive jurisdiction over allegations of sexual misconduct in the Olympic movement.”

Mr. Stewart, the victims’ attorney, called these statements, “Flat out lies.”

According to the lawsuits, USA Water Polo received numerous complaints that Hojreh had been teaching and coaching his players to sexually assault players on other teams during competitions. These assaults included grabbing and penetrating the genitals of female players.

Mr. Stewart said, “While USA Water Polo officials forwarded reports and complaints to the U.S. Center for SafeSport they did not report the incidents to law enforcement or Child Protective services even though under California law and SafeSport code they are mandated reporters of sexual abuse and the organization’s chief executive only months later would tell a U.S. Senate subcommittee that the NGB’s protocol was to immediately alert law enforcement, according to depositions, emails, letters and sworn declarations attached to the complaint.”

Hojreh is currently awaiting trial on 34 counts of sexual abuse involving 10 victims, nine of whom were children at the time of the acts. Charges including sexual battery, lewd acts upon a child and sexual penetration.

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Manly, Stewart & Finaldi is the nation’s leading firm representing athletes in child sexual abuse cases against school districts, Universities and Olympic Governing Bodies. They recently represented 180 alleged victims of former Olympic Team doctor Larry Nassar resulting in a $500 million-dollar settlement against Michigan State University. MSF were lead attorneys in the $852-million-dollar sexual abuse settlement with the University of Southern California, the largest settlement against any University.

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