Water polo players get $14 million in sex abuse settlement
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A dozen female water polo players who accused their coach of sexual abuse will split nearly $14 million after settling a lawsuit against USA Water Polo and a California club.
The athletes alleged that International Water Polo Club and the national governing organization for the sport failed to protect them from abuse by coach Bahram Hojreh from 2012 to 2017.
The $13.85 settlement with USA Water Polo and International Water Polo Club was filed Friday in Orange County Superior Court. It is being paid by the insurer for both organizations.
“We have heard the plaintiffs’ testimony, and their allegations are heartbreaking,” Christopher Ramsey, CEO of USA Water Polo, said in a statement. “We hope that this allows them to begin a new chapter in their lives.”
The California Supreme Court ruled in April in a case involving aspiring taekwondo Olympians that sports governing organizations have a duty to protect athletes.
Attorney Morgan Stewart, who represents 11 of the plaintiffs, said that ruling helped hold USA Water Polo accountable in the case. The USA Taekwondo case set a standard that national governing boards can’t just collect fees and avoid responsibility.
“It’s the most absurd way to say we’re responsible for these clubs, but we’re not responsible,” he said. “USA Water Polo’s failures in this respect were just as culpable as the club’s.”