Bob Hewitt at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko
Bob Hewitt at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko

Mom denies knowledge of Hewitt rape

By Naledi Shange Time of article published Feb 17, 2015

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Johannesburg - Suellen Sheehan's mother, Judy, on Tuesday denied having any knowledge of her daughter being allegedly raped by former tennis champion Bob Hewitt.

Judy Sheehan told the High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge, that her daughter never told her that she was raped.

“If this had happened, this case would have taken place some 30 odd years ago,” said Judy Sheehan.

Her daughter is one of two women who have alleged that Hewitt raped them as he coached them in tennis in the 1980s.

Sheehan testified that Hewitt raped her in his car in 1982 before tennis practice when she was 12 years old.

A third woman testified that Hewitt sexually assaulted her in the 1990s.

Australian-born Hewitt, now 75 years old, who is on trial for two counts of rape and one of indecent assault, has denied the allegations.

Suellen Sheehan has alleged that her mother had rubbished her claims of the rape.

The two had an estranged relationship.

Earlier prosecutor Carina Coetzee questioned the testimony of a journalist who testified.

The reporter, Charmaine Slater of the Bedforview and Edenvale News, had earlier testified that she wrote an article about Hewitt and one of his alleged victims Suellen Sheehan in 2011.

She said she relied exclusively on her notes to compile the article. The notes were handed in as evidence in the trial.

After going through the notes and the article, however, Coetzee said there were aspects and quotations that Slater had used in her article which did not appear in her notes.

“I very often write articles on memory and on notes,” said Slater.

“The words were said. They were not in the notes,” she said.

Coetzee alleged, as with a previous witness, journalist Shaun Gillham, that Slater had added unverified material to the article to “give it colour”.

Slater had testified that Sheehan claimed to have been raped by Hewitt in his car when she was 11.

Sheehan, however, testified the rape happened when she was 12.

Slater said she had sent the article to Sheehan who responded by saying she had done a “fantastic job”.

Sheehan has told the court that she was misquoted in several newspaper articles, particularly on her age when Hewitt allegedly raped her.

Sapa

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