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Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Inquiry told of 'drama teacher rape'
The woman said drama teacher John Owen raped her
A woman has told a child sex abuse inquiry how her drama teacher raped her after she refused to perform a sex act during an A-level practical examination.

The woman, who cannot be named, cried as she told the resumed Clywch Inquiry how John Owen had constantly spoken of sexual matters and picked on her during drama lessons at Pontypridd Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen.

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

The inquiry, lead by Wales' Children's Commissioner, Peter Clarke, is investigating allegations made against Mr Owen.

Mr Owen - an award-winning children's TV writer and former head of drama at the south Wales valleys school - killed himself last year the day before he was due in court to face five charges of indecency against children.

The woman's evidence comes after the father of a man who claims he was abused by Mr Owen, accused the authorities of trying to cover-up the teacher's activities.

On Wednesday, the witness said she had been so ashamed of the rape which happened when she was 17, that she had told no one about it.

But she had told senior teachers of her concerns about the practical examination when she decided to drop drama, she said.

It was revealed on Wednesday that four senior teachers at the school had signed a letter 11 years ago warning of the psychological damage Mr Owen was inflicting on a number of pupils at the school.

John Owen
John Owen killed himself last October

The letter was addressed to local authority officials.

The inquiry's barrister, Nicholas Cooke, said that because one official was not willing to testify to the inquiry, it was impossible at this stage to ascertain what further action, if any, was taken.

On Tuesday, the father of one of the witnesses claimed Mr Owen's alleged abuse of pupils had been covered up by the chair and vice-chair of governors at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen.

The parent said the school's management team had been intent on protecting the good name of the campus and of Welsh-medium education.

The inquiry heard evidence from four parents, whose children allege they were sexually or physically abused by Mr Owen.

Ysgol Rhydfelen
The drama teacher ordered two boys to dance naked

One father said that with hindsight he should have been suspicious about the many trips and after-school activities his son was involved in.

The inquiry has been told that the man's son, now an actor, had stayed at John Owen's house frequently.

Several other parents spoke of guilt at not realising what was happening to their children.

Danced naked

Earlier, the hearing was given evidence by a 27-year-old former pupil, who relived the moment he danced naked in front of Mr Owen.

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

However no one was charged and he resumed taking evidence.

The issue first came to light when four of Mr Owen's former pupils came forward with abuse allegations dating back to the 1970s.

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

The writer of the Welsh-language youth drama Pam Fi Duw? (Why Me God?) killed himself with an overdose of morphine 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 that 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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