THE BLOG

A Court (Finally) Seeks Justice for the Women in Long-Ago Rapes

04/01/2015 05:08 pm ET | Updated Jun 01, 2015

Finally, a court has ruled in favor of the women victims of long-ago rapes and sexual assaults. A South African judge has convicted a one-time mixed doubles tennis partner of America's Billie Jean King of rape and sexual assault decades after the incidents occurred.

Judge Bert Bam said he believed the three women who made rape and sexual assault allegations against now 75-year-old Robert Hewitt, a Grand Slam doubles tennis champion, arising from incidents occurring in the '80s and '90s when he was coaching them, according to an Associated Press story by Lynsey Chutel, reporting from Johannesburg.

Quoting from Chutel's AP story, Judge Bam was "satisfied" all three women were telling the truth, noting the "striking similarities among the three womens' testimonies [which] showed that Hewitt's conduct was calculated."

Two of the women had accused the retired tennis star of rape, the third of sexual assault. Hewitt has denied everything.

What is remarkable about this story is that the two rapes and the sexual assault were alleged to have occurred decades ago, yet the three women making the accusations were permitted to have their day in court in South Africa and on March 23, 2015 -- all three prevailed. The judge believed them.

Too bad that's not the case in the United States. It appears that most, if not all, of world famous comedian Bill Cosby's many accusers will never get their day in court. And although he continues to make a living as a funny man, this is no laughing matter. Unreasonably short statutes of limitations stateside silence their voices.

Whether Cosby's accusers are telling the truth, or lying as Cosby, through his spokesmen, has alleged (since Cosby himself has kept mostly silent), there will be no swearing-in to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help them God -- no testing the veracity of statements through the crucible of cross-examination, no offers of proof, nothing, nada. Likewise, Cosby will never have the opportunity to restore his reputation in a court of law.

Perhaps our 50 state legislatures should look to South Africa's lead and re-examine their state statutes of limitations on rape and sexual assault. The South African judge ruled no statute of limitations for these crimes.

After all, it's not just women and girls who are raped. Men and boys are raped, too. Think Penn State. Or John Patrick Shanley's Pultizer Prize winning play, Doubt, which became a film with the same title, starring Meryl Streep, Viola Davis and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Hewitt's sentencing hearing is set for April 17th.