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A dozen women to split $14 million in water polo sex abuse settlement

Twelve women who accused their coach of sexual abuse for several years will now receive a total $13.85 million in a settled lawsuit alleging officials failed to acted upon reports of abuse.

The women claimed they were molested by coach Bahram Hojreh from 2012 to 2017 and that the International Water Polo Club and USA Water Polo did nothing to protect the girls. 

The California Supreme Court ruling in April concluded that the organizations had a responsibility to protect the athletes.

On Friday, the settlement was filed with the Orange County Superior Court, which will be paid by the insurers for both organizations.

“We have heard the plaintiffs’ testimony, and their allegations are heartbreaking,” CEO of USA Water Polo Christopher Ramsey said in a statement. “We hope that this allows them to begin a new chapter in their lives.”

The 34 counts of sexual abuse charges that Hojreh has pleaded not guilty to include lewd acts on a child, sexual penetration with a foreign object and sexual battery by fraud, which alleges the victims were not aware they were being molested because the coach said the “touching served a professional purpose,” according to the Associated Press.

Hojreh was suspended from USA Water Polo in January 2018 when the organization received reports from the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a sports abuse watchdog created to assist professional athletes in abusive cases. 

Over the past years, many Olympic-level athletes have come forward and revealed massive sexual abuse scandals like USA Gymanstics doctor Larry Nassar, who abused over 150 victims.

At 57, Nassar will likely die in prison, with the judge who sentenced him in 2018 saying, “I just signed your death warrant.”

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Hojreh has been permanently banned from the sport by SafeSport. However, he has not pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him and still faces several lawsuits.

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