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FORMER Grand Slam doubles champion Bob Hewitt was charged in a South African court with two counts of rape and one count of sexual assault of minors.

Prosecutors charged the 73-year-old Hewitt, a former member of tennis' Hall of Fame, with raping a girl under the age of 16 in 1981 in Sun City in northern South Africa.

Hewitt also was charged with raping another girl under 16 in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg, in 1982. A third charge of sexual assault of a girl under 18 in Boksburg in 1994 was read out at Boksburg Magistrate's Court.

Hewitt, who won 15 Grand Slam doubles titles, has previously denied the accusations. He did not attend his case's first court hearing on Friday citing ill health, but defence lawyer Alwyn Griebenow said Hewitt denies all the charges.

Hewitt is suffering from anxiety attacks and depression among other health problems, is taking medication and couldn't travel from his home in Addo, on South Africa's southern coast, to attend the hearing, Mr Griebenow told reporters.

A medical certificate from Hewitt's doctor was submitted to explain his absence and later released by the court.

The certificate said that Hewitt's "overall condition had deteriorated rapidly over the last 2-3 years." It described how Hewitt had undergone several operations on his knees and a shoulder in recent years and had also suffered a stroke in 2010 and a heart attack in 2011.

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Members of the Australian tennis team (L-R) John Newcombe, Bob Hewitt, Ken Fletcher and Fred Stolle in a 1961 photo.

"Obviously all of this is working on him," Mr Griebenow said. "He's an old man ... and now at such an age, at the age of 73, to be confronted by all of this, it's quite a lot to handle, I think."

The charges followed a two-year investigation by South African authorities into accusations against the Australian-born Hewitt, who moved to South Africa and became a coach toward the end of his tennis career.

The two alleged rape victims have said they were being coached by Hewitt at the time that the offenses are said to have taken place.

Hewitt won doubles and mixed doubles titles at all four Grand Slam events between 1963 and 1979 and played with greats like Billie Jean King, but was indefinitely suspended from the International Tennis Hall of Fame last year because of the allegations.

The organisation, based in Newport, Rhode Island, inducted Hewitt in 1992, calling him an "enduringly elegant player" and a "master of the doubles craft."

His legacy and any references to him have now been stripped from the Hall.

Prosecutors said they would apply for Hewitt's trial to be held at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg because two of the three alleged offenses occurred within its jurisdiction.

The defence argued that Hewitt was too old to travel and said it would make an application for the trial to be held in the Eastern Cape province, where he lives. The trial was expected to last about a month, Mr Griebenow said.

The case was adjourned until October 4.

 

If you remember watching Kenny Anderson playing the game, you remember it was fun.

Best remembered as a Georgia Tech star then a New Jersey Net (although he played for a number of other teams), he wasn’t a great shooter, he gambled a little too much on defense, but he was a playground guy who figured out how to make that style and flair fit in the NBA well enough that he was an All-Star with a 14-year NBA career.

Since he retired after the 2005 season, he’s been pretty quiet (although PBT had him on a podcast earlier this year). Now he’s doing an off-Broadway show in New York and something came out of that which he discussed with SB Nation:

Anderson said he was molested twice as a child. Once by somebody in the youth basketball community (he was very clear it was not one of his AAU or high school coaches).

“I admitted I got molested twice,” Anderson said…

“I don’t think it killed me, like it killed some other kids that’s been molested. You can really take a lot out of a kid for the rest of their lives. I think without the fame, without the basketball celebrity notoriety it might have been more difficult for me….

“The bottom line, if I could help somebody and they see Kenny Anderson got molested and he’s talking about it, now people are going to come out and maybe be able to tell their story. I wasn’t going to do it, but the trigger went off for me and it just had to be done.”

He didn’t tell his mother or anyone for years, his wife only found out three or four years ago.

But with his new autobiography coming out (likely next March) he is starting to talk about it.

In the past year NBA player Keyon Dooling also admitted he had been molested as a youth.

The only way to really help future children from this predatory situation is to shine a light on it — people like Anderson coming out and talking about it. That may help others come forward and talk about it, to shine a light on the perpetrators whoever they are and bring them out in the daylight. Bring them to justice.

And if Anderson’s story helps one person with that, helps them know it’s not their fault and they can talk about this, then it was worth it.

Good on Anderson for taking this step.

 

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Katherine Starr on NBC Sports Radio  

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Listen to the interview here:

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Former Tennis Star: Bob Hewitt faces rape charges in South Africa 

By Bob Hohler : Boston Globe

Disgraced tennis star Bob Hewitt has been summoned to court in South Africa on charges of rape and indecent assault involving women he coached when they were girls and he reigned as one of the greatest doubles players of all time, according to sources in South Africa.

Hewitt, 73, who last year was suspended indefinitely from the International Tennis Hall of Fame over the women’s reports of sexual abuse, is due to make a preliminary appearance at the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court Aug. 16.

South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority has not identified the alleged victims, but at least two women who went public two years ago in a Globe investigation of Hewitt — Twiggy Tolken and Suellen Sheehan — reported they were abused in the Boksburg jurisdiction.

“The time has come for the law to take its course,’’ Tolken said Wednesday from New Zealand. “Let justice prevail.’’

The Globe investigation uncovered allegations that Hewitt sexually abused underage girls he coached, from Greater Boston to South Africa from the 1970s to the early 1990s. Six women publicly identified themselves as alleged victims, and numerous others who were cited as possible victims either declined to be interviewed or could not be reached.

Several of the alleged victims have long sought Hewitt’s prosecution. Sheehan said from Johannesburg she hoped the criminal charges would send an empowering message to young abuse victims “who need to know they will be heard.’’

Efforts to reach Hewitt, who lives in the small country town of Addo, South Africa, were unsuccessful. He previously denied any wrongdoing to investigators, including a former US prosecutor who conducted a lengthy inquiry for the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

That inquiry led more than 25 members of the Hall’s executive committee to vote unanimously to suspend Hewitt. The Hall stopped short of expelling him because he has not been convicted of a crime, according to executive director Mark Stenning.

Under South African law, Hewitt may enter a plea Aug. 16, which would determine whether the case is resolved in the magistrate’s court or moved to the South Gauteng High Court for a possible trial.

The Globe launched its investigation after Heather Crowe Conner of West Newbury, a former tennis pro and member of the Pentucket Regional School Committee, went public in 2011 with allegations that Hewitt began abusing her when she was 15, soon after he completed a stint with the Boston Lobsters.

When the Globe interviewed Hewitt about Conner’s allegations in Addo in 2011, he generally denied them. But he made several incriminating statements, including, “I would rather just forget about it,’’ and, “What’s she bringing it up now for?’’

Conner said Hewitt first sexually assaulted her in 1975 near the tennis courts at Masconomet Regional High School. In 2010, she asked Essex County prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against him. But the district attorney’s office, while deeming her allegations “credible,’’ said prosecutors were stymied by the lapsed time since the incident, the lack of additional evidence, and Hewitt’s location outside the United States.

Jetta Bernier, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children, has supported Conner and has joined her in calling on the state legislature to reduce the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases.

“We applaud South African officials for this action,’’ Bernier said. “It sends a strong message to abusers who believe they can sexually exploit children with impunity and never be held accountable. When victims and their advocates stand up for the truth, abusers are learning that no amount of money, status, or institutional reputation can shield them.’’

The case in South Africa is strengthened by love letters Hewitt purportedly gave Tolken in 1981 while he was allegedly sexually involved with her. She had just turned 13, and he was 40.

A source close to the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s inquiry said investigators were prepared to conduct a handwriting analysis of the letters but the exercise became unnecessary when Hewitt acknowledged writing them.

A native Australian, Hewitt partnered with South Africa’s Frew McMillan in the 1960s to form one of the most dominant doubles teams in tennis history. They captured 57 titles, including victories over teams led by John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, and Arthur Ashe.

Hewitt won 15 Grand Slam doubles titles before he retired in 1983.

In recent months, Hewitt has made several public relations efforts to restore his image. In addition to attacking the integrity of the alleged victims, he has portrayed himself as a victim.

“Overnight my life changed for the worse,” he told a South African magazine. “It’s been traumatic for us all,’’ he said, referring to his family.

When did the system fail Kelley Davies Currin and the Rest of us?

Today Rick Curl was sentenced for 7 years for the sexual abuse of Kelley Currin that happen almost 30 years ago.  Rick has been a free man and participating in life like the rest of us for the past 30 years without any consequence for his actions of sexually abusing this minor swimmer at the time in question.

Why didn’t something happen sooner?  Something did happen.  The family settled a confidential case with an undisclosed amount and a gag order was imposed to prevent anyone from discussing the case. Life was meant to go on as normal and all is good. After all Rick Curl was a good coach.   He produced Olympians and successful swimmers throughout the collegiate system.

Another reason why this didn’t happen earlier is that the type of sexual abuse Rick Curl specialized in orchestrating is considered to be a consensual relationship.   There is nothing consensual about  a minor athlete falling in love with their coach, a significant power figure whose coaching attention can make the difference between an Olympic medal or national record and failure.    The notion of an acceptable consensual romantic relationship between a teacher and student or coach and athlete   violates every legal, moral and ethical principle in our society. Yet these relationships and their acceptance are commonplace in our competitive sports environment especially with our female athletes.  While this is something that everyone would openly say is appalling and should be stopped at all costs especially when it the relationship begins with an under age athlete (under the age of 18).  Yet there are such famous athletes as Lindsay Vonn who started dating her coach at the age of 16, whom she went on to marry and now, recently divorced, is currently in a relationship with Tiger Woods.

When the emotionally immature athlete does not cry “foul”, is being a successful performer and the coach is winning, the rule appears to be “ all good, no harm, no foul”.   A sexually abused athlete may not be able to deal with the reality of such a relationship until twenty years after the fact.   During that period, only that athlete suffers a pain that is so great, they cannot discuss it with anyone.   When the dust settles and the truth of the destruction of the athlete’s life is revealed, the artful acquaintance pedophile still receives sympathy from those who respect his success as a coach.  Worse yet, there are those who believe there is such a circumstance as “consensual” and see no “victim’.   

What is more troubling is that the amateur sport system has failed to clearly state the absolute impermissibility of any romantic relationship between a coach and his athlete.   This coach-athlete relationship issue and other sexual abuse issues are   rampant in sports and considered to be the worst kept secret.

When the next big story hits, and there will be one, and when everyone says, “How could this have happened? Why didn’t someone say something?”  Someone did say something.   We just haven’t been listening.  Many athletes have said something.  US Swimming and other open amateur sports governing bodies just haven’t been listening. Worse yet, turning a blind eye. As the management of USA Swimming has been doing for years. The 30 year time lapse is clearly proof of that.

Since starting Safe4Athletes, I have continued to witness this failure in the system, where speaking up is fought against with public and administrative disbelief, blaming of the victim and victims seeking justice encountering extreme difficulty at every turn.  Parents of these young athletes that have been victims of sexual abuse, come to me and share their stories and all of the extreme efforts that they have gone to protect their child and attempt to “right” the system that has harmed them in unspeakable ways. The efforts of these parents and children are   the most heroic displays of courage that I have ever witnessed   while the  response of those with the power to fix the system simply adds to   their heartache, allows ridicule and fails to deliver justice.    

The system is broken.  Cases of sexual abuse and coach misconduct break our athlete heroes and  reward coach perpetrators.  Sport governing bodies care more about producing winning athletes than their obligation to enforce legal, moral and ethical guidelines established by our society.  . 

We talk about “not doing enough” to protect our young athletes, yet everyone around the situation makes it very difficult to do “anything” let alone enough. 

No coach at any age should be sexual engaged with an athlete. No Olympic dream is worth the lifetime of pain, destruction that sexual abuse brings.  An athlete’s hope and  dreams is all it takes to be vulnerable to the coach pedophile and the failures in this system.

When enough is really enough, when sexual abuse is clearly defined and unacceptable under any circumstance between a coach and an athlete, only then will our sports training environments be safe for children and adult athletes.  Nothing can be more important than our humanity.  We cannot allow  the system to continue to failure us. 

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Every athlete deserves a safe and positive sports environment. SPEAK UP if the way you are being treated feels wrong. 
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