In recalling the events that led her attorneys to file a motion for a protective order in Orange County Superior Court against her former water polo coach and members of his family, one day in particular stands out for a teenager known as Jane GK Doe, according to court filings.
Doe was already on edge as she entered a conference room at an Irvine office building, having dreaded the day — Aug. 12, 2019 — for weeks, knowing she would be deposed in her civil suit against her former water polo coach Bahram Hojreh, International Water Polo, an Orange County club, the Anaheim Union High School District, and USA Water Polo, the sport’s Irvine-based national governing body.
Doe is one of nine women who allege that Hojreh sexually assaulted them as teenagers on multiple occasions, according to court filings. Hojreh, who coached the women at IWP and Kennedy High School in the AUHSD, was arrested in April 2018 on 22 charges ranging from sexual battery, lewd act with an individual under 14, and sexual penetration of a minor with a foreign object, according to arrest records and court filings.
But Doe’s sense of dread turned into a panic attack when she spotted a man entering the conference room she first thought was Bahram Hojreh.
“Initially I thought it was Bahram at first and I was really taken off guard,” Doe recalled in a recent interview. “I was just in shock. I started breathing really heavy. I started tearing up.
“It brought back a lot of memories. It definitely did leave a mark.”
The man was actually Hojreh’s brother Mark, who according to Doe and her attorneys bears a striking resemblance to Bahram. Mark Hojreh, a real estate and business attorney, had showed up at the deposition unannounced to either Doe or her attorneys, saying he represented IWP.
“This is clear witness intimidation,” protested Morgan Stewart, one of Doe’s attorneys, according to a transcript of the deposition.
Mark Hojreh eventually left the deposition after Doe’s attorneys threatened to walk out with their client.
Judge Randall Sherman on Sept. 4 will hear arguments from Doe’s attorneys that Hojreh and members of his family, including Mark, should be prohibited from attending the depositions of the alleged survivors and their families.
Scott Russo, an attorney for Bahram Hojreh and IWP, has argued in court documents and correspondence obtained by the Orange County Register that Mark Hojreh is entitled to be present as a representative of IWP. Under “practice areas,” the website for Mark Hojreh business lists business law, contracts, corporate entities set up, employment law, wills and trusts, and real estate/landlord/tenant.”
Saul E. Wolf, Doe’s attorney’s, citing Mark Hojreh’s lack of experience in sexual abuse cases, said Hojreh’s presence at the alleged survivors’ depositions shows the “bullying nature of Bahram and that is continuing under the cover of litigation.”
Russo has dismissed this argument in emails and letters.
“It doesn’t matter if Hojreh has the litigation of Alan Dershowitz or if he was sworn into the Bar last week,” Russo wrote in an email to opposing counsel.
Wolf and Doe’s attorneys also argue in their motion that Mark Hojreh showing up at the deposition and other actions by Hojreh family members against survivors and their families violate Marsy’s Law, otherwise known as the California Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008.
Marsy’s Law states that survivors are entitled “to be treated with fairness and respect for his or her privacy and dignity” and “to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse, throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process, and to be reasonably protected from the defendant and persons acting on behalf of the defendant.”
Doe’s attorneys have also complained to the court about the way Russo has referred to and treated alleged survivors.
“Your clients are not ‘victims,’” Russo wrote to an alleged survivors’ attorneys.
Russo also wrote to his opposing counsel that the circumstances surrounding the suits are no different “than a slip and fall, car crash or breach of contract case.”
Russo and Mark Hojreh did not respond to requests for comment. Bahram Hojreh has denied any wrong doing.
Attorneys for the alleged survivors also complained in their filing about Ali “Bill” Hojreh, another brother of Bahram.
In a Jan. 19, 2018 email to a survivor’s family, Ali Hojreh urges them to “RECANT” their “lies” and alludes to the more than a dozen college coaches recruiting their daughter that had been in contact with Bahram Hojreh.
“If it was me, I would contact these same college friends who are all personal friend of his and tell them what you have done, and let them know that the same thing can happen in college to some other innocent person,” Hojreh writes in the email. “But, lucky for you, he would never do that because he has such a kind-heart personality. As you can see from the attached emails.”
When asked in a deposition if he had ever spoken to a survivor he called a “liar,” Ali Hojreh acknowledged, “I wouldn’t even know what she looks like.”
Later in the deposition, Ali Hojreh was asked by a survivors’ attorney “Do you care what happened to these girls at all?”
“Nothing happened to those girls,” Hojreh responded.
“Based on your brother’s words?”
“Correct,” Hojreh said.
“Okay,” the attorney continued. “So your answer is you don’t care what happened to these girls?”
“I don’t care about liars,” Hojreh answered.
“Okay. And that’s what you would tell them to their face, that you don’t care about them?”
“I don’t know them,” Hojreh said, “so why would I care?”
Source: Orange County Register