Outrage is the reaction of the alleged victims of tennis legend Bob Hewitt after he finally broke his silence this week and denied sexually assaulting them in their teen years.
According to a story this week in You magazine and a news report in The Herald in the Eastern Cape, Hewitt has just returned from the US, where he underwent lengthy questioning by the prestigious International Tennis Hall of Fame’s legal team, accompanied by his advocate, Terry Price, and his lawyer, Lunen Meyer.
Breaking his silence in an interview with the magazine, which has just hit the shelves, Hewitt reportedly describes himself as “being victimised”, and the allegations as “traumatic” and “ruining his golden years”.
In the Eastern Cape news report, Hewitt was not quoted directly, but his advocate reportedly described the matter as one that “stank of conspiracy”, where Hewitt’s former players “were on a mission to destroy his good name”.
Hewitt’s legal team have also stated there are inconsistencies in the women’s stories.
But former US pro tennis player Heather Crowe-Conner, 50, the first woman to make allegations against Hewitt last year, said she felt “furious” when reading the article.
Crowe-Conner went public in the US, saying she was first coerced into sex with Hewitt near the tennis courts at Masconomet Regional High School in Topsfield when she had just turned 15.
On Friday night, speaking from the US, Crowe-Conner said matter had been very difficult for her family.
“I stand by what I’ve said from the beginning… I did, in fact, file charges of rape two years ago. There were no other victims at the time, and the District Attorney’s office chose not to pursue based on that.
“I didn’t pursue it either because my original intent was never malicious. In fact, I had to speak out and seek help because of what it was doing to me. This was never about anything else but moving forward in my own life. I have only ever spoken the truth, and when I see lawyers and others blindly telling lies, I take offence.”
Another woman, Twiggy Tolken, 43, still has letters Hewitt allegedly wrote to her when she was 12 years old and he was her coach when she was growing up in Joburg.
Commenting on Hewitt’s denials, Tolken, now living in New Zealand, said on Friday: “It is absolutely ludicrous that Hewitt can even consider suggesting that so many of us from around the world would 30 years later decide to conspire to bring him down. I have a wonderful life, but feel justice needs to be done.”
Another complainant, Sue-Ellen Sheehan, who laid a charge of rape against Hewitt in December, said none of the women had anything to gain after so many years, except being able to come to terms with what had happened.
Hewitt has until now remained silent on the matter. His lawyer did not respond to requests for comment at time of going to press.
Independent on Saturday