Justice Served: The Trial and Conviction of Bob Hewitt by Jamaine Krige (first published in 2016 by Penguin Random House)
The trial of Bob Hewitt: sickening, saddening, and ultimately tragic.
Sick because of what he did and because of who he is (and remains to be), sad because his crimes were undiscovered for so long, and tragic because of society’s complete and utter willingness to turn a blind eye to the claims of a child in the presence of an adult, revered in the community.
In March 2015, Tennis Hall of Famer, Wimbledon champ and tennis coach, Bob Hewitt, was found guilty of two counts of rape and one of sexual assault. He received a 6 year prison sentence at 75 years of age.
Many sympathised with the famed coach, saying him going to prison at such a frail old age is cruel. To have mercy.
No, not shame. He got away with it for far too long, that’s all.
Yet, many more women never received any justice for the abuse he inflicted on them as young girls.
The book explores the testimony of his victims. Some of his former students, like Suellen Sheehan and Twiggy Tolken, gave extensive testimony on the sexual assault they suffered at his hands.
Grooming young girls who trusted him, whose parents entrusted their child in his care, while “improving their tennis game”.
From inappropriate touching, rubbing up against them, asking about their periods, writing love letters, exposing himself to young girls, asking for blow jobs, and ultimately, raping them in his car – he broke trust, and the law, regularly.
Author Jamaine Krige, who covered the trial as a reporter, chronicles the trial’s key players and moments.
One of the most notable players is Hewitt’s lawyer, Terry Price – who is now also Christopher Panayiotou’s advocate. He shows little to zero sympathy for the victims. In fact, in turn accusing them of failing to prevent their own abuse. Yes, rape culture 101.
Price argues that the victims never explicitly said “no”. Trying to victim-blame and explain away these crimes like it’s an inconvenience on Hewitt and his wife, former model, Delaille.
It is only an inconvenience that victims were victimised. That their victimisation was left unpunished for so long and that more were abused because of society’s inability to trust children.
Suellen’s mother, like many parents of sexually abused children, continuously dismissed her daughter’s claims that her coach touched her inappropriately, as “rubbish”. Seen but not heard, children are too often not believed.
That is rubbish.
A truly great read that undoubtedly shows the double victimisation of the abused.
Keen on reading the book? Purchase a copy from Takealot.com.
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