Bob Hewitt and his wife Delaille Hewitt at the Palm Ridge High Court. Tennis star Bob Hewitt is charged with rape and sexual assault of Theresa "Twiggy" Tolken who was a teenager when the offence allegedly occurred. 090215. Picture: Chris Collingridge 651
Bob Hewitt and his wife Delaille Hewitt at the Palm Ridge High Court. Tennis star Bob Hewitt is charged with rape and sexual assault of Theresa "Twiggy" Tolken who was a teenager when the offence allegedly occurred. 090215. Picture: Chris Collingridge 651

Hewitt letters: father figure or abuser?

By SHAIN GERMANER Time of article published Feb 14, 2015

Share this article:

Johannesburg -

You be the judge. These letters were sent by tennis champion Bob Hewitt, then 41, to his 12-year-old pupil, Theresa “Twiggy” Tolken, between 1980 and 1981.

Are they the words of a caring father figure, as he claims, or are they part of a grooming campaign by a sexual predator?

The letters have emerged as part of Hewitt’s rape and sexual assault trial, where three former tennis students have claimed he either raped or molested them during the 1980s and 1990s.

A key part of the State’s case, the letters were put to Hewitt on the stand at the High Court sitting at Palm Ridge on Thursday and yesterday, culminating in numerous awkward moments for the now 75-year-old, who has admitted to writing them.

Tolken told the court at the beginning of last week that Hewitt would fondle her after tennis practices and insist she return the gesture.

It was during a weekend at Sun City where she accompanied Hewitt alone on the trip that he allegedly coerced her into oral sex.

Shortly after, he allegedly tried to penetrate the barely teenage girl in his hotel room at the resort.

The letters were written in and around the time of the abuse.

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Carina Coetzee, Hewitt said the letters were an attempt to build up Tolken’s confidence, as he wanted to help fill the gap of fatherly love she wasn’t receiving at home.

He insisted the letters were about Tolken’s tennis career and how he wanted her to move to a government school so that she could attend more tennis tournaments that the private school terms would not allow.

“This is a love letter,” she argued, saying he had used the word “love” eight times and only once used the word “tennis”.

When asked about whether he had sexual desires for Tolken, Hewitt became agitated.

“If I had sex with her, she would have been taken to hospital right away, I assure you,” he said.

Hewitt also claimed the reason he wanted Tolken to destroy the letters was that he didn’t want her father to think he was pressuring her into leaving her private school.

But Coetzee said the real reason was that any father who read such letters would assume they were love letters.

“It’s very suggestive, I will admit,” said Hewitt.

Hewitt also denied raping Suellen Sheehan in the back of his car at a tennis club in Boksburg North more than 30 years ago, and added her parents would support him by saying their daughter was lying. When it was put to him that he molested the third complainant by touching her breasts and rubbing his erect penis up against her while showing her various tennis serves, Hewitt burst into sarcasm.

“Her mother must have been delighted. She saw everything (as she watched the practices). If I did touch her breasts, it was accidental,” he said. After the lengthy cross-examination, Hewitt’s wife, Delaille, was then called to the stand yesterday to enforce Hewitt’s blanket denial.

She also said the reason Hewitt had used the words “my love” in his letters was because it was “an Australian saying”. She claimed she and Australian-born Hewitt referred to numerous friends and family by the affectionate term.

When describing the weekend at Sun City where Tolken was allegedly raped, Delaille said she remembered her as happy throughout the trip. She almost tittered as she described how Tolken had beaten her in a tennis match that weekend, smiling as she talked of the tween’s lively behaviour.

But four days earlier, in full visibility of the court gallery’s first row, Delaille had labelled Tolken as “dyke”, and Tolken’s mother, Colleen, as “dyke’s mother” in her notepad as she followed the court proceedings. Coetzee argued Delaille had been present when Price had read out Hewitt’s plea explanation and implied she was simply regurgitating what she had heard in court.

The trial continues on Tuesday, with the defence planning to call journalists to the stand about their recent articles on Sheehan’s claims of sexual abuse.

Letter 1

My love,

Bully for me, I found a pen. It’s raining at 12.23. Hope it stops as I want to work with you today. Apart from the fact, I want to see you. Can’t of course hold or kiss you as that has to come from you. You aren’t normally very quick in starting these things, at least not in the past. Please excuse the offer… my love but really, it is the way I feel. I am so flat I can’t call you! Unfortunately, you are the only person capable of lifting me up and the past two days (I know you have had problems of your own), you have not only knocked me flat but left me way down in the dungeon. You know where I am and how to contact me, etc so any time you wish to have a talk or anything else you know I am always available, in body, heat and mind as well as soul.

I love you

Xxx Bob xxx

Xxxx xxxxx

Letter 2

My Love,

Excuse the pencil.

I wanted to speak with you last night! Obviously you did not want to speak with |me. I wanted to speak with you this morning. |I waited, you didn’t come. Obviously you didn’t want to speak again.

So, no more will I chase, no more will I ask, no more anything from me, whatever happens, whatever (illegible) between us, you have to initiate. Sorry but I can’t help feeling I’m being a nuisance.

I wanted to speak about the weekends at Sun City but also for you to start at Jeppe only on the 5th Feb but to leave St Andrews on the 30th and for you to spend the week in between at S/City.

Probably you couldn’t do it but I wanted to mention it. I won’t now.

Must close.

My love, feelings and desires remain the same.

Love

Xx Bob xx

P.S. Destroy this and the last one NOW

I love you Bob

Letter 3

To: My… big love

I would like to apologise for not writing to you from W.P but really I didn’t have your address. I’m cross with you for not trusting me. I can only assume you think of me as a sex maniac. Believe me I’m not. My heart is going faster and faster because in 40 minutes I will see you again. Well done yesterday. You have put on a little weight, not much though and I love it. I love you.

Hope we can keep it up and for a long time (like forever). What we were doing yesterday and begin very, very soon phase 1 and then soon after phase 2. Really my love, I can’t wait and only because of my love for you.

Between you and me, I believe you have improved so much in the past two months, it’s unbelievable. I feel more strongly about your tennis than ever before and I hope with all my heart you make it.

Your father is determined to keep you at St Andrews (sic). I wish you would be there and chip in when I talk to him about it.

(illegible) love now.

All my love.

xxx Bob xxx

P.S: This letter does not self destruct so please do it yourself now.

P.P.S: Instead of asking questions to Karin (Tolken’s sister), how about me. Karin only knows about 10 percent (of) girl things I know.

Please have confidence, etc in me.

Love

B

[email protected]

Saturday Star

Share this article: