Australian-born tennis star, Bob Hewitt, is accused of raping two girls under the age of 16 in 1981 and 1982, and sexually assaulting a third girl under the age of 18 in 1994.
The 75-year-old has pleaded not guilty to all three charges in the Johannesburg High Court. Two of his accusers who have given permission to be named, have testified against Hewitt.
Hewitt won 15 Grand Slam doubles titles and is recognised as one of the greatest double players of all time. He became a South African citizen after marrying a South African.
Suellen Sheehan’s testimony
Suellen Sheehan stated in court on 10 February that Hewitt had sexually assaulted her when she was 12 after he picked her up for tennis practice.
Sheehan told the court how Hewitt had parked under trees when the two were early for practice and lowered the passenger seat of his car. He allegedly told her to lower her underwear.
“He put his penis inside me. I remember exquisite pain,” Sheehan claims.
Sheehan said that she never objected to Hewitt touching her: “I didn’t object. I was told this was something I was to do and I did it… I didn’t put up any resistance. I accepted it.”
Theresa Tolken’s testimony
Theresa Tolken told the court on 9 February that Hewitt sexually abused her on a tennis training trip to South Africa’s Sun City.
Tolken told the court that her tennis coach allegedly forced her to perform oral sex and touched her inappropriately when she was 12.
This allegedly happened 34 years ago when Tolken lived in Bedforvidew, Johannesburg. Tolken now lives in New Zealand and appeared in court to testify against Hewitt.
She told the South African court: “I told my mother he made me take off my panties, told me to lie on top of him in the bath… I told her he tried to put his penis in me.”
Tolken explained that a case was opened the following day, but was not pursued as the case was not opened in the area where the attempted rape allegedly occurred, and there were concerns as to how Tolken would have been treated in court.
She testified that at the time Hewitt wrote three letters to her and instructed her to destroy them after reading.
Hewitt allegedly wrote of his “love” for Tolken, as reported by Times Live.
One extract read: “I want to see you. Can’t of course hold or kiss you because that has to come from you.”
Another read: “I can only think you think of me as a sex maniac, I am not.”
The third read: “I am so flat I can’t hold you, you are the only one who can lift me up.”.
Tolken told the court that Hewitt’s alleged abuse would be embedded in her head for the rest of her life.
“I am here to see justice done; Bob Hewitt has to pay for what he has done. To say I am talking nonsense is ridiculous,” she said.
In a statement read by Hewitt’s lawyer Terry Price, the former tennis champion said of Tolken: “I treated her like my own daughter and became, in retrospect, too close to her.”
Hewitt further stated that his accusers have changed their statements a number of times. His statement read: “No matter what happens in this case I will never recover from these accusations.”
The statement compared his case to the recent allegations against Bill Cosby.
Outside the courthouse, Women and Men Against Child Abuse held a black and red poster and called for a life sentence for child rapists.
Taking a stand with @hwalker1 and @Terrym000… #protectivebehaviours #bobhewitt pic.twitter.com/RoVQf7149l
— geekinstilletos (@geekinstilletos) August 16, 2013
Due to the allegations, Hewitt was suspended from the International Tennis Hall of Fame in November 2012.
TOP IMAGE: “Bob Hewitt (1967)” by Eric Koch / Anefo – Nationaal Archief. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 nl via Wikimedia Commons