Former Tennis Doubles Champion Bob Hewitt Guilty of RapeRenee Bonorchis and Rene Vollgraaff
A South African court convicted former Grand Slam doubles tennis champion Bob Hewitt on two counts of rape and one of indecent assault for incidents dating back more than 30 years.
High Court Judge Bert Bam found Hewitt, 75, guilty on all charges on Monday brought by women he coached as young girls, following a six-week trial in Johannesburg. Hewitt was released on 10,000 rand ($840) bail and is due back in court on April 17 for the sentencing hearing, defense lawyer Alwyn Griebenow said by phone.
“We were very surprised, I did not expect a guilty verdict on the evidence presented in court,” Griebenow said, adding that he will study the verdict before advising his client on whether to appeal. The state’s evidence is overwhelming and the accused abused the trust the young girls had in him, Bam said in his ruling, according to the South African Press Association.
Hewitt was suspended from the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012 following allegations that he sexually abused girls he coached in the 1980s. Hewitt, who was born in Australia and played for South Africa, was charged in June. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The first witness told the court on Feb. 9 that Hewitt sexually assaulted her 34 years ago when she was 12 years old. A second woman said he raped her in his car when she was 12. A third woman claimed Hewitt had rubbed up against her inappropriately while coaching her in the 1990s.
Hewitt won 15 Grand Slam tennis titles in the 1960s and 1970s, including nine mens doubles and six mixed doubles.