Accuser's parents back Hewitt

2013-07-23 17:30
Bob Hewitt (File)
Durban - The parents of one of the women who accused former tennis star Bob Hewitt of raping her decades ago during a coaching session, have branded their daughter a liar.

Mike and Judy Sheehan, the parents of Suellen Sheehan, have decided to speak out in an attempt to clear their names, after the "humiliation and embarrassment" at the claims by their daughter that they did nothing about the alleged abuse when she told them as a 12-year-old.

“We have kept quiet about this in the hope of protecting our family and grandchildren but we can no longer do so while she goes around spreading lies about us,” Judy told the Daily News.

According to Judy, 65, the final straw came when Suellen told YOU magazine earlier this month that she was “going to make my mom sit in front of me and explain her actions”.

Mike Sheehan, 68, said they could not understand the allegations levelled against Hewitt by Suellen, because they had never left her alone with him during the time she was coached by him.

“She claims that she told us when she was 12-years-old that Bob Hewitt abused her. That is an absolute lie. We never ever saw any signs of that and there was never an opportunity for that because Judy used to take her to the tennis courts and sit there and take her home. Also she was never coached one-on-one with him,” Mike said.

According to the Associated Press, South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) served Hewitt, 73, with a summons and ordered him to appear at the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court on August 16 when the court will likely make public what criminal charges he faces.

The NPA would not say what the charges against Hewitt were.

Hewitt confirmed by telephone that he had received the summons and would "of course" appear in court, and said he was aware of the charges but wouldn't say what they were as they had not been made public.

"I'll keep it private," he said. "I'm innocent of all charges and these accusations have caused untold hardship on my family."

Hewitt also said he intended to sue his accusers before declining to answer further questions.

Hewitt has been at the centre of a long investigation into accusations he raped and abused girls in South Africa and the United States as far back as the 1970s and through to the 1990s.

Recognised as one of the greatest doubles players of all time and a winner of 15 Grand Slam doubles titles, the Australian-born Hewitt was indefinitely suspended from the International Tennis Hall of Fame last November because of the allegations.

Suellen Sheehan, who currently resides in Johannesburg, said she felt "numb" at the news that Hewitt was to face charges.

"What I want to say, what I want to reiterate," Sheehan said, "is that parents must never think there is not an evil being around their children. And children must never think you won't be believed if someone is doing something to you. If the first person doesn't believe you, go to the next person."

Read more on:    bob hewitt  |  tennis

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