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Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Abuse inquiry told of naked dance
One man told how he danced naked for John Owen
Witnesses at a child sex abuse inquiry have told of the suffering brought on them and their families by the activities of the late writer and drama teacher, John Owen.

They have been giving evidence at the reopened inquiry set up after Mr Owen, who taught drama at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen, Pontypridd, south Wales, killed himself a year ago shortly after the claims were made.

John Owen, appearing at court
John Owen, appearing at court

On Tuesday, the father of one of John Owen's alleged victims told inquiry at Pontypridd - the first by Wales' Children's Commissioner Peter Clarke - that both he and his son had suffered by what had happened.

The evidence came a day after a man now aged 27 relived the moment he danced naked in front of the teacher who went on to become an award winning children's TV writer.

The latest person to give evidence to the inquiry was a man who cannot be named in order to protect his actor son's anonymity.

He said his son had told him he was going to wait until he, the father, had died before he going to police to reveal what had happened.

The father said that he felt very strongly that schools should have guide lines and mechanisms for protecting children involved in out-of-school activities like drama productions.

John Owen
John Owen killed himself last October

On Monday, the 27-year-old spoke of the occasion, 14 years previously, when he was made to dance naked by his former drama teacher.

The man -- now a father of two -- told the child abuse inquiry that he did it because of the psychological hold Mr Owen exerted on him, other pupils and staff at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelin, the Welsh language secondary school serving Pontypridd.

Mr Owen committed suicide as he was about to stand trial on indecency charges.

The former pupil, who cannot be named to protect his privacy, said Mr Owen told him and another male pupil to rehearse a dance in the nude.

They giggled, but did it because they did not question Mr Owen's requests.

Ysgol Rhydfelen
The drama teacher ordered two boys to dance naked

On another occasion, he and his friend shared a room with Mr Owen while performing in a play at the National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst.

They were asked to massage his face and arms to relieve tension.

He said Mr Owen also took photographs of them as they swam, semi-clad, in a river near his home.

The man said he did not consider what was being done as wrong at the time.

Now he knew that parental consent should have been sought for any out-of-school activity.

He added that if John Owen taught at the school his two sons were to attend, he would stop them going, because of what had happened to himself.

Indecency counts

Commissioner Clarke had adjourned the Clywch inquiry in April after new allegations were made against five other people.

However no-one has been charged and Mr Clarke resumed his examination of the issues involved in the claims made last year by four of Mr Owen's former pupils who came forward with abuse allegations dating back to the 1970s.

Mr Owen was charged with five counts of indecency with boys between 1974 and 1991.

The writer of the Welsh-language youth drama Pam Fi Duw? killed himself with an overdose of morphone the day before he was due in court.

He was found dead in a caravan at Trecco Bay, Porthcawl, on the south Wales coast.

Criminal proceedings

The resumed inquiry has been told the Crown Prosecution Service had refused to give its reasoning to the commissioner for beginning criminal proceedings against Mr Owen.

Mr Clarke told the hearing he would again be asking the CPS for its reasons behind the decision.

The commissioner's role is to ensure the safety of children in schools, clubs and health care.

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