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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.