Officials investigating whether banned Bahram Hojreh played in Florida tournament

At least two complaints have been filed with the U.S. Center for SafeSport about banned Orange County water polo coach Bahram Hojreh’s presence and possible participation in a Florida tournament last weekend, the Orange County Register has learned.

The tournament’s sponsors are also investigating whether Hojreh played in a master’s division during the event, despite a life-long ban by the U.S. Center for SafeSport following his 2018 arrest for multiple counts of sexual abuse.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport received a formal complaint on Monday claiming that Hojreh, a resident of Orange County, was playing with a Jacksonville Water Polo Club team in a master division of the Battle of the Bay, a U.S.-approved water polo event tournament in St. Petersburg. , said someone familiar with the complaint. USA Water Polo, the sport’s Irvine-based national governing body, has also filed a complaint.

Hojreh was arrested in April 2018 on 22 charges ranging from sexual battery, immoral behavior with a person under the age of 14 and sexual penetration of a minor with a foreign object, according to arrest reports and court documents. At the time of the arrest he was coach of Kennedy High School in La Palma and International Water Polo, an Orange County club.

Hojreh was banned from participating in the sport for life by the US Center for SafeSport on February 14, 2019.

“Bahram Hojreh is permanently ineligible to participate in US Water Polo events,” said Christopher Ramsey, CEO of USA Water Polo, in an email. While his name was not featured on any verified roster for the Battle of the Bay event, his presence near the event has been reported by USAWP to the US Center for SafeSport for further investigation. A complaint will also be filed with USAWP to address any violation of the USAWP Code of Conduct or the Center’s Code. USA Water Polo is awaiting instructions from the Center regarding any action the Center may take – granted its jurisdiction over Mr Hojreh’s alleged violations – as a result of Mr Hojreh’s actions and those who may be in consultation with acted on him. A USA Water Polo hearing panel will determine what additional action can be taken with regard to other members who may have violated USAWP’s rules of conduct. ”

Hojreh did not respond to a request for comment.

“Bahram has not played in this tournament or any other game at all since he was suspended from USA Water Polo,” said Mark Hojreh, Bahram’s brother and one of his lawyers in an email.

Hojreh has been the target of multiple lawsuits in Orange County Superior Court alleging that he sexually assaulted, abused and harassed underage female players he coached at Kennedy, IWP and Irvine’s University High School, where he was hired and fired three times.

USA Water Polo was also informed in 2017 of allegations that Hojreh taught players he coached to sexually assault rival underage players during matches, according to USA Water Polo and court documents. The US Water Polo official took no action against Hojreh and did not report the allegations to the police or child protection agencies as required by California laws, US Water Polo guidelines and the US Center for SafeSport.

Hojreh reportedly went on to sexually assault at least a dozen underage girls he coached between July 2017, when the first complaints about the coach and IWP were filed with the USA Water Polo, and his arrest in April 2018, according to police reports, judicial files and interviews.

Hojreh was featured in a poolside team photo posted earlier this week on the Jacksonville Water Polo Club’s Facebook pages, a player and tournament where the JWPC team celebrates a win against a Miami team at the tournament. In the photos, Hojreh, like the other players, is shirtless and wearing a Speedo

Jacksonville Water Polo Club did not respond to a request for comment.

Zacchary Kappos, founder and co-director of Next Level Water Polo, the company that organized the tournament in Florida, said Thursday “we were just informed” of the allegations.

“As far as I know, Hojreh did not participate,” said Kappos, a former All-American player at Long Beach State. “For my part, we did everything in the textbook.”

But Kappos said he and other tournament officials look at rosters, match logs, referee reports and as many as 1,000 photos to determine if Hojreh played. Although there were video cameras at various pools where tournament games were played, there were no video cameras at the pool where Hojreh allegedly played.

His friends wanted to have their picture taken with him. He didn’t play. Period, ”said Mark Hojreh. “I’m not sure where he was when he had pictures taken with his friends. I didn’t know being on a pool deck would violate the terms of his ban. If it really does, it could be a condition that is legally incorrect. I will still advise him to stay off the pool decks until justified. ”

Hojreh was disciplined by USA Water Polo in 2010 for playing players from other clubs in tournaments under assumed names.