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‘My mom dismissed Hewitt rape claims’

Suellen Sheehan, composes herself during a break in court proceedings, at the trial of former tennis star Bob Hewitt at the High Court in Johannesburg sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court, Tuesday, 10 February 2015. Sheehan is testifying about how Hewitt allegedly sexually abused her as a child. Hewitt has pleaded not guilty to two charges of rape and one of indecent assault. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Suellen Sheehan, composes herself during a break in court proceedings, at the trial of former tennis star Bob Hewitt at the High Court in Johannesburg sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court, Tuesday, 10 February 2015. Sheehan is testifying about how Hewitt allegedly sexually abused her as a child. Hewitt has pleaded not guilty to two charges of rape and one of indecent assault. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Published Feb 10, 2015

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Johannesburg - A woman who alleges former tennis star Bob Hewitt raped her revealed on Tuesday that her mother rejected her claims as “rubbish”.

Suellen Sheehan told the Johannesburg High Court, sitting in Palm Ridge, that she told her mother how Hewitt lowered her underwear and penetrated her on a day he fetched her from school and took her to tennis practice.

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The Australian-born Hewitt is facing two charges of rape and one of indecent assault. He has pleaded not guilty.

“I started telling her about it and she dismissed it with 'rubbish',” she said. She was being cross-examined by Terry Price, for Hewitt.

She and her mother did not have a good relationship and her parents had since retired to the coast. She had no contact with them.

Sheehan said she mentioned the incident to a few people when she was in her early 20s, as well as her then boyfriend, Ryk Cloete, in 1990. He had handed in an affidavit.

According to Price, Cloete never mentioned the words rape or sexual assault.

“I never use that word (rape),” Sheehan responded.

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Price said Sheehan's parents had dismissed her claims as lies.

“My mom was lying when she said she never asked Mr Hewitt to fetch me from school,” Sheehan said.

“My parents support abuse... They accepted that he abused me.”

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Sheehan was the second witness to testify in the case following testimony on Monday from Theresa Tolken, who also claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Hewitt.

Delivering her evidence-in-chief earlier, Sheehan said Hewitt assaulted her under some trees before tennis practice in Boksburg one day in 1982, when she was 12.

“On this day, the groundsman Themba was not around,” she said to questions from her lawyer Carina Coetzee.

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She testified that Hewitt lowered the passenger seat of his car, which had a soft roof and black leather seats.

He told her to lower her underwear.

“I'm not sure whether this was an instruction,” she said.

“He climbed on top of me,” she said, before choking on her words.

“He put his penis inside me. I remember exquisite pain,” Sheehan said.

“I don't remember how long it lasted, whether it lasted 20 seconds or 20 minutes.

“I remember looking for Themba,” Sheehan said.

Hewitt then told her to go and clean herself up.

“I didn't object. I was told this was something I was to do and I did it,” she said, adding that she respected Hewitt.

“I needed to listen to him in order to grow up and mature.

“I didn't actively say this is what I didn't want. I didn't put up any resistance. I accepted it,” she said.

Sheehan said certain smells and sounds took her back to that day.

She never saw a doctor on the day of her rape.

“I've broken my arms at times and never told my parents for days,” Sheehan said.

The white-haired Hewitt sat in the dock alongside his wife Delaille, looking at Sheehan as she testified.

Occasionally, Delaille Hewitt looked down and appeared to be writing something.

Sapa

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