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

Suellen said nothing about rape: dad

By Naledi Shange Time of article published Feb 17, 2015

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Johannesburg - Suellen Sheehan's father Michael Sheehan on Tuesday testified that his daughter did not reveal she had been raped by former tennis champion Bob Hewitt.

Delivering his evidence-in-chief in the High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge, Michael Sheehan said that after he and his wife Judy Sheehan heard of the allegations, his wife met Suellen for coffee and asked her what had happened.

“Suellen said he did this,” Michael Sheehan said, gesturing that Hewitt looked down her dress at her breasts.

“I said it may have happened at 12 but you're 41 now. What can you do about it? Get over it,” said Michael Sheehan.

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Carina Coetzee, he said he told her this as she had made it a big thing and he did not want it to interfere with her adult life.

Coetzee asked whether his response could have prevented Suellen Sheehan from going further and disclosing that she had been raped.

He replied that it was possible.

The court heard that the first time Michael Sheehan and his wife had confronted their daughter about her allegations, she had told police that her father had raped her.

Terry Price, for Hewitt, asked Michael Sheehan whether he had raped his daughter.

“Of course not,” he said, with a chuckle.

Suellen Sheehan sat at the back of the court. She wore a black dress and sat with her arms crossed as her father testified.

As Michael Sheehan completed his testimony and walked out of court, Suellen Sheehan smiled at him as he walked by.

She claims Hewitt had raped her in 1982 in his car after fetching her from school for tennis practice.

She was 12 years old at the time.

Another woman has testified that Hewitt raped her in the 1980s.

A third woman said Hewitt had sexually assaulted her in the 1990s.

Hewitt, now 75, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.


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