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Bob Hewitt victim: I'm overwhelmed and relieved

Suellen Sheehan said she was also ready to forgive her family for testifying against her during the trial.

Victim Suellen Sheehan and members from Women & Men Against Child Abuse after Hewitt’s conviction. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - One of convicted rapist Bob Hewitt' s victims, Suellen Sheehan, on Monday said she was overwhelmed and relieved by his judgment.

The former tennis champion was found guilty on two counts of rape and one of sexual assault in the High Court sitting in Palm Ridge.

Hewitt pleaded not guilty after three women claimed he abused them while he was their coach in the 1980s and 1990s.

Ten witnesses testified last month.

The state and the defence presented closing arguments on Monday morning.

Sheehan testified in court after opening a case against Hewitt four years ago.

She sobbed outside court after judgment was handed down.

Sheehan's parents both testified against her but she said the guilty verdict was a victory.

"Justice has been served and I was fearful to come forward. I wasn't expecting this and when I pressed charges four years ago, I didn't even think we'd see the inside of a courtroom."

'MY PARENTS SUPPORT BOB HEWITT'

During the trial Sheehan revealed she did not have a relationship with her family because her parents supported Hewitt.

The victim 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.

Meanwhile, the convicted rapist, has been released on R10,000 bail ahead of his sentencing next month.

Hewitt had been restricted to staying at his home in the Eastern Cape. He may visit his daughter in Johannesburg and must be present for sentencing in Pretoria next month.

'I FORGIVE MY FAMILY'

Sheehan said she was, however, ready to forgive her parents for testifying against her during the trial.

She said her faith in the justice system had been restored after the former tennis champion was convicted, and that she was ready to move on with her life and forgive.

"What my family has done, in most people's minds is unforgivable. I've forgiven them; I've forgiven myself for allowing them to do that to me."

VERDICT WELCOMED

Women and Men Against Child Abuse at the same time said Hewitt's conviction would set a precedent for future cases to ensure victims were given justice, even decades after a crime is committed.

The organization's Germaine Vogel said justice had been served.

"It's a huge relief and, of course, satisfaction because this case will strengthen future cases and also give hope to victims or survivors out there who haven't opened cases that happened a long time ago."