Google says I wasn’t in SA: Hewitt
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Johannesburg - Australian-born former Grand Slam tennis champion Bob Hewitt had an alibi for the time period during which he allegedly raped Suellen Sheehan, the High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge, heard on Tuesday.
Hewitt said he had done a Google search and found he had been in Paris or London around the time Sheehan alleged he raped her.
Terry Price, for Hewitt, recalled his client to the stand following testimony from Sheehan's parents.
While Sheehan could not provide the date when the alleged rape occurred, she testified that Hewitt raped her in his car before tennis practice just before her 13th birthday in June 1982.
Between May 24 and July 4, 1982, Hewitt said he had been commentating on the Wimbledon tennis tournament overseas. His co-anchor Jan Snyman could vouch for him, Hewitt said.
Hewitt is on trial for the rape of two of his former students, namely Theresa Tolken and Sheehan in the 1980s, and the sexual assault of a third, who may not be named, in the 1990s. He has pleaded not guilty. He gave tennis lessons to the girls.
On Tuesday, the court heard evidence from two journalists who interviewed Sheehan in 2011.
Shaun Gillham of the Weekend Post testified that Sheehan told her Hewitt sexually assaulted her when she was nine. Gillham no longer had the notes he took from the telephonic interview with Sheehan.
He reported that he had been informed that Hewitt had Alzheimer's disease. In an interview with Hewitt he did not question him about this. He said this point was kept in his story as it “added colour”.
A second journalist, Charmaine Slater of the Bedfordview and Edenvale News, testified that Sheehan told her Hewitt raped her when she was 11.
After telling the court she exclusively relied on her notes to compile the article, it emerged that not all the quotes she used were in her notes. Slater said she relied on her notes and her memory.
Both journalists said Sheehan never contested the contents of the articles.
Testifying last week, Sheehan said she was sometimes misquoted by the media.
Her parents, Judy and Michael Sheehan, from whom she was estranged, testified on Tuesday.
Sheehan had said she tried to tell her parents of the rape, but her mother dismissed her claims.
Judy Sheehan denied any knowledge of the rape prior to reading about it in newspaper articles in 2011.
“If this had happened, this case would have happened some 30 odd years ago,” she said.
She said their daughter physically and verbally abused them and had claimed to police that her father had raped her.
Suellen Sheehan had suggested she would lay sexual harassment complaints against a boss of hers who she was having trouble with, her mother told the court.
Judy Sheehan said their relationship collapsed after she and her husband cut off financial help to Suellen when she turned 40.
They had disagreements about Suellen's son Michael, now 21, whom Suellen accused of taking drugs.
Michael Sheehan said he had asked his daughter about the allegations concerning Hewitt. She told him Hewitt had looked down her breasts.
“I said it may have happened at 12, but you are 41 now. What can you do about it? Get over it,” Michael Sheehan told the court.
Prosecutor Carina Coetzee said this could have prevented Sheehan from going into more detail about what had happened.