Bob Hewitt’s victim to reclaim her life
Suellen Sheehan says she wants to move on after being raped by Hewitt more than 30 years ago.
JOHANNESBURG - One of Bob Hewitt's victims on Monday said she's forgiven him and now wants to reclaim her life after being raped more than 30 years ago.
Suellen Sheehan is one of three women who testified about the abuse suffered at the hands of Hewitt, who was a tennis coach in the 1980s and 1990s. PICTURE: Suellen Sheehan and members from Women & Men Against Child Abuse after Hewitt's conviction
PICTURE: Suellen Sheehan and members from Women & Men Against Child Abuse after Hewitt's conviction
The High Court sitting in Palm Ridge on Monday found the former tennis champion guilty on two counts of rape and one of sexual assault.
It has been a long journey for Hewitt's victims who never thought he would see his day in court.
Sheehan says 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."
At the same time, she says she's forgiven him.
"I forgave him a long time ago. We all just need to move on from this and learn something from it."
Hewitt has been released on R10,000 rand bail and will be back in court next month for sentencing.
Hewitt has 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.
JUDGE: HEWITT'S CONDUCT WAS CALCULATED
Judge Bert Bam said the former tennis champion's conduct was calculated and carried out with shrewdness.
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.
The defence had argued that Hewitt was a happily married man with children.
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.
MY PARENTS SUPPORT 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.
'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. But I forgive them. I've also forgiven myself for allowing them to do that to me."