Bob Hewitt summoned to appear in South African court

Bob Hewitt has been at the center of a long investigation into accusations he abused and raped girls as far back as the 1970s and through to the 1990s.

Updated: June 20, 2013 16:25 IST
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Johannesburg: Former Grand Slam tennis doubles champion Bob Hewitt has been served a summons to appear in a South African court and face charges following allegations he sexually abused young girls he coached decades ago, prosecutors told The Associated Press on Thursday.

South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority said the summons was served on the 73-year-old Hewitt on Saturday. Hewitt was ordered to appear at Boksburg Magistrate's Court near Johannesburg on Aug. 16, when he will learn what criminal charges he faces.

The NPA would not say what the charges are against Hewitt. NPA spokesperson Phindi Louw said Hewitt, who is believed to live in the town of Addo on South Africa's south coast, would be informed of the charges when he appears in court.

Hewitt has been at the center of a long investigation into accusations he abused and raped girls as far back as the 1970s and through to the 1990s.

Recognized 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 year due to the allegations.

When contacted by the AP on Wednesday, a man who identified himself on the telephone as Hewitt said he had no knowledge of any charges.

"I think it is best you call me in a month or so," he said, before declining further comment.

Two of Hewitt's alleged victims, Suellen Sheehan and Twiggy Tolken, accuse him of abusing them when he was their coach in South Africa.

Sheehan asked South African police to open an investigation in 2011, and accuses Hewitt of raping her when she was 12.

Tolken, who now lives in New Zealand, said Hewitt also began abusing her when she was 12. She told the AP by email that the charges against Hewitt would be rape and indecent assault.

A third woman, Heather Conner, of West Newbury, Massachusetts, also accuses Hewitt of abuse in the United States. Conner said she was sexually abused from the age of 15, being forced to have sex with him near a high school in Massachusetts.

All three women agreed to be named by the AP, which typically doesn't identify alleged victims of sexual abuse.

Sheehan said she felt "numb" at the news that he was to appear in court and 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."

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