Referee has sexual relationship with underage female water polo player. $2.0 million net verdict. San Bernardino County.


High school water polo referee has sex with minor female over extended period until her father finds out.  

The Case

  • Case Name: Jane Doe v. Southern California Aquatics Federation (Water Polo), Nicolas M. Simental, and Stephen Born.
  • Court and Case Number: San Bernardino Superior Court / CIVDS1014455
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, November 03, 2015
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, October 19, 2010
  • Type of Case: Sexual Abuse
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Brian S. McCarville
  • Plaintiffs:
    Rooke Baron
  • Defendants:
    Southern California Aquatics Federation; Nicolas M. Simental; Stephen Born.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $2,564,675 against Simental. Defense verdict for Southern California Aquatics Federation and Stephen Born.
  • Net Verdict or Award: $2,051,740 as to Simental; 20% apportioned to two non-parties.
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    $2,051,740.00 as to Simental; 0 as to Southern California Aquatics Federation and its officer, Stephen Born.

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 80% to Simental; 15% to plaintiff's father; 5% to father's girlfriend.
  • Economic Damages:

    Past Medical Expenses: $14,675

    Future Medical Expenses: $50,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past Noneconomic Damages: $1,000,000

    Future Noneconomic Damages: $1,500,000

  • Punitive Damages:

    Waived by plaintiff when Simental stipulated to non-dischargeability of the judgment.

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 23 Days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 Days.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 as to Simental; 10-2 as to Southern California Aquatics Federation; and 9-3 as to Stephen Born.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Motions for JNOV and New Trial scheduled for January 15, 2016.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    WCH Law Group, P.C. by Victor Raphael and Ravi Sudan, Orange.

    Gates, O'Doherty, Goner & Guy, by Douglas Guy, San Diego.


  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Law Offices of Brad Snyder, by Brad Snyder, Agoura Hills.  (For Stephen Born.)

    Hewitt & Truszkowski, by Stephen L. Hewitt and Henry Truszkowski, Woodland Hills.  (For Southern California Aquatics Federation.)

    Ricks & Associates, by Kenneth R. Ricks, San Bernardino.  (For Nic Simental.)

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Russell High, M.D., psychiatry, Santa Monica.

    Teri Pokrajac, Psy.D., psychology, Newport Beach.

    Kathy Hartmann, BSN. life care planning, Reno, NV.


  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Christopher Thompson, M.D., psychiatry, Los Angeles.

    Amy Sutton, Ph.D., life care planning, Long Beach.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff's father and defendants Nicolas M. Simental and Stephen Born were members and officers of the Southern California Aquatics Federation, an organization that trains and assigns water polo referees to officiate high school and college water polo matches. Plaintiff Jane Doe, 15 years old at the time of the incident, engaged in a sexual relationship with then 27-year-old Nicolas Simental from around June, 2005 through November, 2006. The majority of the sexual encounters occurred at the minor plaintiff's home.  In July 2007, plaintiff's father read her diary and learned of the relationship, which he reported to police. The police arrested Simental a month later.  

    Defendant Simental pled no contest to the criminal charges as part of a plea bargain. 

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended that Simental engaged in unlawful sexual intercourse with her. This issue was not contested. Plaintiff further contended that defendant Born knew or should have known about the relationship and failed to report it. And finally, the contention as to the Southern California Aquatics Federation was that it is vicariously liable for the actions of SImental and Born.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Simental did not dispute the sexual relationship. However, he claimed that he told defendant Born about the relationship the morning following the first sexual intercourse. Born contended that the conversation never took place and that there was no reason for him to suspect the relationship.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Minor plaintiff claimed she became pregnant by Simental;  that the pregnancy was terminated when Simental punched her in the belly region. This was disputed by Simental.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder leading to psychiatric problems, drug addiction and suicide attempts.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $14,675.00 (stipulated)
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $196,036.00
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None