Thu | Oct 19, 2017

Third woman accuses Hewitt of sexual abuse

Published:Thursday | February 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM
AP Hewitt at a Johannesburg court yesterday.

JOHANNESBURG (AP):

A third woman testified yesterday that she was sexually abused while a minor by former tennis star Bob Hewitt and that he once said to her at a coaching session "rape is enjoyable".

The woman testified in a South African court that she was sexually assaulted while Hewitt gave her tennis lessons in the early 1990s, when she was between 14 and 17 years old. Hewitt would rub up against her from behind and also touch her breasts, she testified, according to the South African Press Association (SAPA).

"At a private lesson ... he said to me 'rape is enjoyable in all cases, and if I rape you, you need to lie down and enjoy it'," SAPA quoted her as saying.

The AP does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse unless they agree to be named.

Hewitt, who was a member of the United States-based International Tennis Hall of Fame before the allegations of abuse emerged, is on trial charged with two counts of rape and one of sexual assault of girls he coached in cases dating back more than 30 years.

The alleged offences all took place in South Africa, where Hewitt now lives.

Two other women testified this week that Hewitt raped them in the early 1980s when they were both younger than 16. Those women, Twiggy Tolken and Suellen Sheehan, have agreed to be identified by the AP.

Tolken, now 47, testified Monday that Hewitt forced her to perform oral sex on him when she was 12 and 13, and also raped her. Sheehan testified that the former star raped her in his car before a tennis practice in 1982, when she was 12.

Hewitt, now 75, denied the charges when the trial opened in a Johannesburg courtroom on Monday and compared his case to recent allegations against comedian Bill Cosby.

Damaged reputation

"No matter what happens in this case, I will never recover from these accusations," he said in a statement read out by his lawyer.

Hewitt has been supported by his wife, who has sat next to him on a wooden bench during proceedings.

On Wednesday, prosecutors closed their case following the testimony of Hewitt's third accuser. Hewitt's lawyer, Terry Price, said he would now make an application to have Hewitt declared not guilty because of a lack of evidence. The judge adjourned the trial until Thursday.

The Australia-born Hewitt was one of the world's top doubles players in the 1960s and 1970s, winning nine grand slam doubles and six grand slam mixed doubles titles. He teamed up occasionally with greats Billie Jean King and Arthur Ashe.

He was indefinitely suspended from the Rhode Island-based Hall of Fame in 2012 after the organisation conducted an investigation into the allegations. At least one other woman in the United States has accused him of sexual abuse.