Hewitt still on bail after South African sentence for rape

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PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A South African judge on Tuesday extended the bail of retired doubles tennis champion Bob Hewitt, who intends to appeal his conviction for raping and sexually assaulting minors in the 1980s and 1990s.

Hewitt, who was sentenced to six years in prison on Monday, will be confined to his home until a June 19 hearing on whether he can appeal his conviction and sentence, Judge Bert Bam ruled.

The postponement is to allow Hewitt's new lawyer, Johann Engelbrecht, to review the case records, Bam said.

Hewitt's defense team wants the matter to be heard in South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal and will petition the chief justice if Bam refuses their application, said Alwyn Griebenow, one of Hewitt's attorneys.

Australian-born Hewitt, 75, has denied all the charges. He can only leave his home on a small citrus farm in South Africa's Eastern Cape province for medical appointments, according to the judge's instruction.

One of Hewitt's accusers, Theresa Tolken, said she believes the defense team is using delaying tactics.

"I'm entirely happy with the six years but is he going to serve it?" she asked. Tolken, who now lives in New Zealand, said she will no longer travel to South Africa to attend court proceedings.

"I'm tired of it now. He must be held accountable, end of story," said Suellen Sheehan, who laid rape charges against Hewitt in December 2011.

Although the AP typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse, Sheehan and Tolken have agreed to be named. The third woman who laid a charge of sexual assault against Hewitt, asked to remain anonymous.

South Africa does not have a statute of limitations for rape. The sexual assault charge was laid within 20 years, within the statute of limitations for that crime, said the spokesman for the National Prosecution Authority, Velekhaya Mgobhozi.

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