Victim ready to forgive her family who supported Bob Hewitt during rape trial
One of Bob Hewitt’s victims on Monday said she has forgiven him and now wants to reclaim her life after waiting for over 30 years for justice. Suellen Sheehan is one of three women who were raped by the former Grand Slam champion while he coached them in the 1980s and 1990s.
During the trial, Sheehan revealed she did not have a relationship with her family because her parents supported Hewitt.
She claimed her parents were abusive towards her when she was younger, saying she didn’t report the abuse immediately because her parents dismissed her and told her she was “talking rubbish” when she tried to confide in them.
A few years ago, her parents took to the media, calling her a liar and denying that she’d been left alone with Hewitt. Sheehan then claimed that her family supported abuse.
She said she is ready to forgive her parents for testifying against her during the trial adding that her faith in the justice system had been restored after Hewitt’s conviction.
The High Court sitting in Palm Ridge on Monday found Hewitt, who now resides in Port Elizabeth, guilty on two counts of rape and one of sexual assault.
Sheehan said she was overwhelmed when he was finally convicted.
“I didn’t really think we would see the inside of a courtroom and neither did he, so it’s something that I need to process,” she told EWN.
“I forgave him a long time ago. We all just need to move on from this and learn something from it.”
The Australian-born Hewitt has been released on R10 000 bail and will be back in court next month for sentencing. The 75 year-old has been restricted to staying at his PE home although he may visit his daughter in Johannesburg and must be present for sentencing in Pretoria next month.
Judge Bert Bam, who handed out the judgement, said Hewitt's conduct was calculated and carried out with shrewdness.
Judge Bam said there's no doubt that the victims were intimidated by Hewitt and overwhelmed by both his reputation and the attention he gave them.
Hewitt’s wife testified that she had never been aware of him acting inappropriately with his students.
The court however found that he did have the opportunity to be alone with the young girls and hid the fact that he wrote letters to one of the victims where he expressed his love for her.
Bam also concluded that the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that penetration had occurred despite the lack of medical evidence.
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