Abuse claim leads to suspension from Tennis Hall


Abuse claim leads to suspension from Tennis Hall

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (AP) Former doubles champion Bob Hewitt was suspended from the International Tennis Hall of Fame after an investigation into allegations that he sexually abused girls he coached, and his legacy has been stripped from the institution.

The Hall executive committee voted unanimously this week to suspend Hewitt indefinitely after an outside investigation deemed credible the allegations of multiple women who said they were abused by Hewitt while he was coaching them decades ago, Hall CEO Mark Stenning told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The Australian-born Hewitt won 15 Grand Slam doubles titles in the 1960s and 1970s and was inducted into the Hall in 1992.

No one has ever been suspended or expelled from the Hall. Stenning said the committee did not consider expulsion because it was believed that would require a criminal conviction.

Hewitt, who is 72 and lives in South Africa, also was permanently removed from the South African Sport and Arts Hall of Fame on Friday, a spokesman said.

A man who answered Hewitt's South African-listed cellphone number said he was ``not available for comment.''

The Weekend Post newspaper in South Africa quoted him last year as saying, ``I only want to apologize if I offended anyone in any way.''

Stenning said Hewitt's plaque in the Tennis Hall and other references to him there and on the Hall's website, were removed Thursday. The website had called him an ``enduringly elegant player'' and a ``master of the doubles craft.''

``His legacy ceases to exist in the Hall of Fame,'' Stenning said.

Suellen Sheehan, who accuses Hewitt of raping her when she was 9 years old and was one of his tennis proteges in South Africa, told the AP on Friday that she stayed up late into the night to hear news that he had been removed from the Tennis Hall.

``He will never ever go up on that wall. My work is done,'' said Sheehan, now 43 and a businesswoman in Johannesburg. ``That is what I set out to do. To all people out there who feel that they will never be heard or believed, you know, we have now been believed.''

Sheehan said she and three other alleged victims of Hewitt's abuse had been pushed by the Hall of Fame to pursue a criminal case against him so that they could act.

A criminal investigator in South Africa was handling her case, Sheehan said, and the four alleged victims who decided to pursue the case together had ``a good chance of justice.''

``For all intents and purposes we wanted to remove him from the Hall because he didn't deserve to be there. But he still needs to go to jail,'' Sheehan said.

Sheehan said the International Tennis Hall decision would now put pressure on South African authorities to investigate Hewitt, who is believed to live in a seaside town on South Africa's south coast.

Twiggy Tolken, another alleged victim, said in an email to the AP from New Zealand - where she lives after having left South Africa - that she was ``overwhelmed'' at the news.

``We have all waited a very long time for the HOF to make a decision, sometimes even thinking they would not,'' Tolken wrote. ``I am extremely happy they made the right decision. Bob Hewitt has got away with far too much for far too long.''

Sheehan and Tolken both agreed to be named. The AP typically doesn't identify people who say they were sexually abused unless they agree.

Ryan McGee of the South African Sports Hall said that Hewitt had also been removed from that institution's roll of honor immediately. He was inducted in 2006.

Attorney Michael Connolly of the firm Hinckley, Allen & Snyder, which the International Tennis Hall hired to conduct the inquiry into the allegations, said he interviewed more than two dozen people over several months. He spent 10 hours interviewing Hewitt, who was accompanied by two South African lawyers, in September, but would not characterize those discussions.

Connolly said he pursued every lead he came across. ``We identified as many of the victims as we could, spoke to them, spoke to their family members and spoke to a host of others with relevant information,'' he said.

Connolly presented his initial findings to the executive committee in September, then made a final presentation to the panel in New York City on Wednesday, according to Stenning. Not all members of the committee were in attendance, but everyone who was there voted in favor of indefinitely suspending Hewitt.

The Hall changed its bylaws this year to allow for both suspension and expulsion.

Among those Connolly interviewed was Heather Conner, of West Newbury, Mass. She says she was sexually abused by Hewitt from age 15, when she says he forced her to have sex with him near a high school in Massachusetts.

Conner had been critical of the Hall for not taking action sooner and had sought Hewitt's expulsion. She was surprised - and pleased - by the Hall's decision.

``Honestly, I really didn't think they were going to do anything,'' she said. ``I'm thankful that they've listened and heard. It feels good to be believed.''


AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray in Johannesburg contributed to this report.

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Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

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Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

The Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Important victory: Saturday night's game between the Wizards and Pacers had several layers of playoff implications on the line and it was Washington who rose to the occasion and showed the urgency commensurate for the stakes.

By beating the Pacers, the Wizards locked up the season series between the teams, two games to one. That gives them the tiebreaker for playoff seeding if the teams finish the regular season with the same record. That could very well prove paramount. As of now, the Wizards and Pacers have the same record (40-30) with 12 games to go.

The season series advantage means the Wizards are above the Pacers in the standings despite having the same record. They moved into fourth place in the East with the win and the Cavs slotted back into third. There will likely be a lot more movement as these next few weeks play out, but the Wizards now hold an important edge over the Pacers.

The win also pushed the Wizards to 14-8 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. Wall could return this coming week or the week after and the Wizards have more than stayed afloat during his absence.

The Wizards' magic number to make the playoffs is now just five. 


Sato went off: The Wizards jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter mostly thanks to a hot start from Tomas Satoransky, who scored the Wizards' first five points and had 10 by the end of the first quarter.

Satoransky's floater was automatic. He dropped in several in the lane from all different angles. Satoransky was practicing the same shots, floaters off each foot, the day before in practice and it paid off.

It was a well-rounded night for Satoransky. In addition to his 12 points, he also had eight assists and five rebounds, including this one to find Marcin Gortat for the dunk:

Gortat came up big: Speaking of Gortat, the Wizards' big man had one of his best games of the season. He poured in 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists a steal and a block. Gortat shot 6-for-8, consistently having his way on the block.

The Pacers were without two of their best big men in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis and Gortat took advantage of that. He was way too much for Al Jefferson.

The Pacers tried to roll with small-ball lineups using Trevor Booker and Thaddeus Young as their big men, but it didn't work. Gortat was too big for them and his teammates did a great job finding him for open looks.

Gortat's 18 points were his most since Jan. 3 when he had a season-high 21 against the Knicks. Lately, Gortat has seen his minutes dwindle with the increased role for Ian Mahinmi, so Saturday night must have felt good for the Polish Machine.


Bojan held in check: Bojan Bogdanovic, who spent part of last season with the Wizards, was a major factor in the first two matchups between Washington and the Pacers this season. He had 20 points in one game and 29 in another, each time getting hot from three.

The Wizards, though, made some adjustments in this one and held Bo Buckets in check. He didn't make his first shot until nearly the midway point of the second quarter and it was only because Kelly Oubre, Jr. (16 points, 18 minutes) lost his balance. Oubre stumbled backward, giving Bogdanovic a split second to get off an open three. That was the only shot he hit in the first half as he began the game 1-for-4.

Oubre did a good job harrassing Bogdanovic and not giving him space on the premiter. Otto Porter (eight points) and Bradley Beal (19 points) did as well. Both Porter and Beal stripped the ball out of Bogdanovic's hands early in the third quarter. Midway through the third, Bogdanovic got past Porter only to be called for an offensive foul on a collision with Gortat. All in all, it was a frustrating night for Bogdanovic, who had 11 points, three below his season average.

Bogdanovic is a very good shooter and when he's hot can alter games. But when you take his shots away, there's not much else he can do to hurt you. The Wizards did a good job taking away his strengths and making others beat them. Not having to focus on Turner and Sabonis certainly helped. 

Sessions is still in the rotation: It turns out those five games for Ramon Sessions over the course of his second 10-day contract weren't just an audition. Now that he has been signed for the rest of the season, Sessions is still getting the nod over Tim Frazier as the backup point guard.

Sessions logged 18 minutes and even played alongside Satoransky and Jodie Meeks in the fourth quarter. The Wizards had a sizable lead and head coach Scott Brooks decided to experiment with his lineups. That is something to keep in mind for when Wall comes back. Once he does, Sessions will be the third point guard and likely rarely see the court. But if they see something they like about him at shooting guard, that could open the door for more playing time possibilities.

Up next: The Wizards have three off-days before their next game. That will be on Wednesday when they head to San Antonio to face the Spurs. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with Wizards HangTime.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon


Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon

The Redskins will be taking visits from two former NFC East foes in the next few days.

Former Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick will visit Redskins Park on Monday. Scandrick, 31, has been with Dallas since them made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. He has eight career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

The Cowboys released Scandrick on Friday in a salary cap move. The Redskins would be attracted to Scandrick’s versatility. He can play either side at corner and, of particular interest to the Redskins, in the slot. That is a position of concern for Washington since they traded Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs as part of the deal for quarterback Alex Smith.

The Redskins have been trying to get former Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to sign for the past several days, but they can’t come together on money. Scandrick could be a fallback if they need one.

The other visitor will be former Giants defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins, per John Keim of ESPN. Hankins, 25, was a second-round draft pick and played his first four years in New York. Last year he moved on to the Colts as a free agent. They are changing their defense and decided to release Hankins after paying him $10 million last year.

Hankins could bolster a defensive line that still needs young talent. It’s not known if he would be considered a nose tackle in the Redskins’ scheme. The Giants ran a 4-3 defense and in the Colts’ 3-4 he was used as an end.

The Redskins had former Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in for a visit earlier this week, but he decided to sign with the Packers.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.