JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The mother of one of the women accusing Bob Hewitt of rape testified Tuesday that her daughter is lying and was not abused as a minor by the former tennis star.
Judy Sheehan was called to testify in a South African court by Hewitt's defense lawyer.
She said her daughter, Suellen Sheehan, was never in a position where she could have been raped by Hewitt, a former Grand Slam doubles champion and Tennis Hall of Fame member who is on trial charged with sexually abusing three girls he coached in the 1980s and 1990s.
"Mr. Hewitt never took my child anywhere," Judy Sheehan testified, according to the South African Press Association. "He never picked her up anywhere ... I would have known about it."
Judy Sheehan's testimony contradicted her daughter, who testified at the start of the trial last week that Hewitt raped her in his car in 1982 when she was 12. Suellen Sheehan testified that the rape took place after Hewitt picked her up from school to take her to tennis practice.
"If this had happened, this case would have taken place some 30-odd years ago," Judy Sheehan said.
She said her daughter never told her at the time that she had been raped. Suellen Sheehan sat in the courtroom in Johannesburg while her mother testified.
Suellen Sheehan is one of three women who have accused Hewitt of sexual abuse decades ago when they were underage. Twiggy Tolken also says she was raped by Hewitt when she was 12 in 1981. A third woman says Hewitt sexually assaulted her during tennis lessons when she was younger than 16.
Hewitt, now 75, is charged with two counts of rape and one of sexual assault against minors. He pleaded not guilty to all three charges.
Although the AP typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse, Sheehan and Tolken have agreed to be named. The third woman asked to remain anonymous.
Hewitt won 15 Grand Slam doubles and mixed doubles titles in the 1960s and 1970s and is considered one of game's greatest doubles players. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1992, but thrown out in 2012 after the allegations of abuse resurfaced.
Tolken testified that in 1981 a case was opened with police against Hewitt after he allegedly raped her, but authorities didn't pursue charges then. At least one other woman in the United States has accused Hewitt of sexual abuse.
On Tuesday, Judy Sheehan cast doubt on the reliability of her daughter's story. Judy Sheehan said she and her husband were now estranged from their daughter having suffered physical and emotional abuse from her. Suellen Sheehan's son was "in hiding from his mother," Judy Sheehan testified, according to SAPA.
Prosecutor Carina Coetzee challenged Judy Sheehan's assertion that she was not told about the alleged rape at the time by her daughter, and her denial now was a self-defense mechanism.
"You feel guilty for not doing anything," the prosecutor said.